Letter: Concord’s wealth divide, redux

May 19, 2023

At Town Meeting, we discovered another outcropping of Concord’s wealth divide. To put that a bit more formally, we exposed again the putatively bimodal distribution of financial means, across town.

Three months back, discussion of building the new Middle School, in these pages, brought to light that about a third of Concord residents face unsustainable stress on their housing cost. Federal Reserve data document that their financial position does not support their housing, which, with food, is one of the two basic human needs. With tax increases, about a third of Concord residents face being driven out of town.

That is not “one or two, or a few” residents, but a substantial number, a third of our neighbors.

The vote at Town Meeting on the Concord Public School budget put this front and center, again. The operations budget for the school, like capital for the new middle school, of course comes from property tax. (Leave aside for now consideration whether property is the good choice to fund schools …) Once again, intolerable stress is put on a third of our neighbors.

Fortunately, the Select Board is now set to consider the residential tax exemption. I believe a key choice they make will be the so-called Residential Exemption Percentage. Effectively, that will determine the level of protection for the third of Concord currently threatened.

This of course commends to the Select Board their careful and thoughtful consideration of the level of protection they choose: a calculation to shield a third of town against both capital cost of the new school and now also increases in operations of the schools. When the exemption is voted in future years, annually, similar careful calculation will be of the essence to account for future cost increases.

We wish the Select Board well in this.

David Allen

Heaths Ridge Road