On May 14, Holden voters will, as is normal every May, get to vote for their favorite candidates for the Board of Selectmen, School District Committee Representatives, Trustees of the Gale Free Library, etc. This year, voters also have a very special opportunity to vote for a ballot initiative to eliminate a tax. It’s not very often that such an event occurs and no one should miss this almost once in a life time chance!
Admittedly, the tax that you could vote to eliminate is not a tax that affects everyone directly. Right now it is collected from just a few full-time farmers in town. If not eliminated, it might only affect a few more some time in the future. It doesn’t even raise a lot of money for the Town; only $1,186 last year; a tiny, tiny fraction of the approximately $30,000,000 that will be spent this year on municipal and school district expenses. But it is still a tax that you can help eliminate.
Some background: Full time farmers pay annual excise taxes on their animals and farm equipment and machinery, just as other residents pay excise tax on automobiles. In 2008, the State Legislature gave local governments the option to waive collection of these taxes. This was done as a way of supporting existing farmers statewide during a particularly bad year and supporting creation of local farms in the future. Any town wanting to exercise their right to waive collection of this tax must put it to a ballot of the voters. The Holden Agricultural Commission, established by vote of Town Meeting in May 2009, is sponsoring this ballot vote as part of their Charter to enhance and support existing and future agricultural growth in Holden.
Your YES vote on Question 1 on May 14 will:
Keep a little money in the pockets of your fellow citizen farmers
Avoid the costs of collecting and administering this tax, applicable to only a few people
Support continued viability of the last few full-time farms in Holden
Eliminate a barrier to establishing new full time farms in town
Support locally grown farm products and community based agriculture in general
Support the efforts of the Holden Agricultural Commission
Support the Open Space Preservation initiatives in the Holden Master Plan
Allow Holden to join at least 16 other Massachusetts communities that have already
voted to waive collection of this tax, including Ashfield, Barre, Belchertown, Berlin, Hatfield, Lee, Ludlow, Oakham, Stow, and Westhampton
Not have a significant financial impact on any Town or School program
The Holden Board of Selectmen has endorsed this initiative as has the Holden Finance Committee.
Remember, it’s not very often that any of us gets a chance to reduce or eliminate a tax of any kind. Doing so with your YES vote on May 14 will be a way to help a few fellow citizens directly and help us all a little indirectly.