An ongoing discussion of what's happening on the Island.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Independent Plum Island?

We're among the skeptical on this issue, but are happy to provide a forum, so feel free to comment!


Blogger Erich said...

According to a 6/25/09 Newburyport News editorial:

"As of last year, the assessed value of Plum Island's private property was about two-thirds of a billion dollars. Taxes paid by islanders is significant, far exceeding the cost of services provided to the island. Case in point: the island contributes to the single most expensive piece of local spending, public education. A study by The Daily News last year indicated that while the island paid about 28 percent of the entire tax levy of Newbury, only about 7 percent of the schoolchildren who attend the local public schools live on the island."

Among the admittedly small sample I've taken of Plum Island property owners, there is grumbling and there seems to be almost universal, enthusiastic support for a separate and unique Plum Island Community. There are a few notable exceptions - they appear to be among those who are skeptical, but not entirely negative.

Is it worth it to go to the trouble to form a separate town? I'm not entirely convinced myself, but I've taken the liberty below to start a list of a few reasons that come to mind:
* Plum Island, as a community, is unique, and has little or nothing in common with the towns and cities that claim it within their boundaries.
* Residents have virtually no representation on the Newbury Board of Selectmen, the Newburyport City Council, or other boards and committees.
* Services to the Newbury and Newburyport sections are different, unequal and, in many cases, lacking.
* Taxes (and tax assements) are unequal and inequitable. Properties are appraised using different rules. Newbury is planning to assess absentee landlords an additional amount. Is Newburyport long to follow suit?
* Tax collections and demand systems are different
Many property owners feel that Plum Island is overtaxed for the benefit of mainland residents.

Plum Island population and property density may be such that it would be possible to provide more (and better) services at lower cost (with fewer tax dollars) than we are now getting.

Creative initiatives that would benefit Plum Island and its property owners and its residents simply aren't feasible now, since there are two governmental entities (read, bureaucracies) involved. What could we do differently if we were a separate entity?
* For example, what about a wind generator farm tied into the entire island's grid?
* What about limited expansion business zoning that could generate additional tax dollars and relieve taxes on residential property owners?
Other reasons? Feel free to add to the list.

However, the process of secession is not a simple one, and good, solid arguments justifying it are absolutely necessary. For one thing, it takes an act of the state legislature to create a new town. For another, there is money involved, mainly for legal fees. Perhaps legal fees and other expenses, or whatever it takes to be effective, can be handled with long term debt. Time is another factor (don't hold your breath). And, as has been pointed out, our respective municipalities wouldn't want to lose the cash cow that they've been milking for years.

Monday, June 29, 2009 1:04:00 PM  

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