The Truro Board of Selectmen voted to adopt the RTE 4-1, despite hundreds and hundreds of personal comments, emails and personal communications in opposition from part-time residents and limited support from full-time residents. For those Selectmen who voted to adopt, this decision was made a long time ago and never changed, despite our collective efforts. This RTE grants a significant financial benefit to those who vote – regardless of need – that is paid for fully by those who have no vote and do not willingly assent to this unjust, unnecessary and unjustified tax burden.
- About 190 members of the community attended the Tax Classification Hearing on 8/22, mostly part-timers who have overwhelmingly opposed the RTE and continued to oppose it tonight. Full timers in the room were about evenly split on the RTE, with supporters making considerate cases for the need and benefit of the RTE. More full-time opponents of the RTE spoke than expected. Part-timers remained overwhelmingly opposed, though a few expressed support. More condo owners expressed their opposition openly than at the 8/9 meeting. Both part timers and full timers expressed their views with decency, dignity and clarity.
- An Open Meeting Law Violation Complaint had been filed on 8/22 regarding the Board of Assessors meeting of 8/14 at which they voted to recommend the RTE. The complaint requests the State to nullify the adoption of the RTE since the BoS vote relied upon a decision of the Board of Assessors that was reached without timely and adequate public input. The BoS declined to consider this argument and the Town will reply per statute within 14 days. This process will likely end up being resolved by the Attorney General.
- Once the public meeting was closed, members of the public were no longer able to speak or respond to comments by Selectmen. The BoS began deliberations through a series of scripted questions widely understood to continue to dismiss part-timers’ concerns. One exception was Selectman Burgess’ questions about whether the RTE would increase taxes on Truro commercial properties, following on from a part-time resident’s related question in reliance on Town Counsel’s opinion that it would.
- Before voting, each of the Board members made formal statements, beginning with the Chair’s lengthy and inappropriate prepared attack on TPRTA as an organization and TPRTA’s leadership as well as other Selectmen’s inaccurate characterizations of the email and online communications of part-time residents. These personal attacks and tone run counter to and are of special concern to may attendees given the specific “ground rules” imposed by the BoS Chair in this Hearing as well as Truro’s Policy 54.
We also had a few victories.
- First, part-time residents exercised our right and our voices to demand fair treatment and consideration of the adverse impact of the RTE on us and the community we love, while calling for true consideration of our full-time neighbors’ needs. We expressed ourselves firmly and with great self-respect, individually and through TPRTA.
- Second, the utter disregard for the considered opinions of part-time resident taxpayers by the four pro-RTE Selectmen is out in the open and transparent. Many participants affirmed the view of one part-time resident who asked the BoS ton 8/23, after their vote:
“Has there ever been an issue affecting 70% of the taxpayers that has caused this much negative response only to fall on deaf ears by the majority of the BoS? …. It was only Ms Burgess who, in this case, I think, heroically stood up for the rights of all property owners by adopting the approach to slow down, reflect and study all sides and solutions. The only voice of reason I heard coming from the other side of the table….”
- Third, we were given, albeit inadvertently, a glimpse of the underlying reason this RTE was adopted: because the Town has substantially increasing expenses coming that it will need higher revenues to cover and that will likely be unacceptable to full time residents/voters.
- Fourth, TPRTA is stronger than ever, and has received unwavering messages of thanks and appreciation for our service and our willingness to speak truth to power. Power is not happy with us, but truth remains our friend and ally. As one attendee remarked after the Hearing:
“ It must have been hurtful to endure this evening’s attacks, but those of us who have been at the meetings since July 1 are witnesses to the truth. Please know that we feel for you and plead with you to continue your and our mission [of one community].“