Children are not a tax burden

From time to time, I may post thoughtful comment related to the topics at hand from those in the neighborhood and beyond. Here is one such post, from long-time village resident Stephen Bing.   —Roland

The recent discussion of the plans proposed by Bolton Crossing LLC has caused  me to reflect on the time when we moved to Bolton in 1974.  We were a young family with two children, one about to enter school and one just two years younger.  Our neighbors on either side of our newly acquired home were, we thought then, elderly.  Neither had children enrolled in the Bolton Public Schools.  In conversations with them we discussed the property tax burden they had. Most of the town budget, then as now, was devoted to the public education system. Neither neighbor considered their taxes an unfair burden. They thought that taking care of children was both the duty and the privilege of living in a small, rural community that fulfilled its responsibility to all its citizens, especially its children upon whom the future of the community rested.

A subtext and sometimes articulated reason for development of plans for Bolton is to restrict the influx of families with children because of the tax burden they impose. The welcoming of “over fifty-five” housing onto what used to be a campground is one example.  The fear that if Bolton Crossing is not permitted to develop commercial establishments on the Smith Property, housing of some sort will be built there is another.

My wife and I have not had children in the Bolton Public Schools for some time, but we learned from our neighbors long ago, that a community value of educating the young was one we endorsed and supported, both then and now.  We did not believe it appropriate or consistent with the values of the rural community we chose, to pull up the ladder once we got aboard the ship, or to say Bolton should, in the short term fiscal interests of those who already lived here, endorse a development policy specifically designed to deny others, the community from which we benefited.

We believed then and believe now that when we support the concept of maintaining the rural character of this town, the concept encompasses more than the purchase of scenery.  It involves embracing the scenery and the values of this small town.  Our house has stood where it is for over two centuries.  For the most part, so has the character of this town. As citizens discuss the utilitarian benefits of commercial development versus residential development, the differential tax burden of the two approaches, and convenience of commercial establishments that are five minutes away as opposed to ten or fifteen minutes away, I hope the historical values of this town will receive equal consideration.

—Stephen Bing

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