1. #1
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    Default Interesting article -- Yankees v. Yuppies

    Thought the following article was interesting. Most small towns in CT are running about 75-80% of their budgets towards schools. Till we shift funding for education from property to income taxes, battles like this will continue. Part of the "sprawl" problem in New England also lies with this -- towns try to limit growth to limit increases in school expenses, so people go further and further from the core urban/old suburbs trying to find "affordable" housing. Bit of a vicious cycle.


    Town Budget Battles Pit Yankees Vs. Yuppies
    May 12, 2004
    By STEPHANIE REITZ, Courant Staff Writer

    For Carl Candels, Avon represents seven decades of happy memories, laced with worry that increasing taxes might force him out of his childhood home.

    For Sara Ray, moving to this Farmington Valley suburb four years ago meant placing her two children in a first-rate school district, one worth every tax dollar she pays.

    The municipal budget battle - played out each spring in towns across Connecticut - has turned especially bitter in Avon this year, in part because of one couple's suggestion that those unwilling to pay more for quality schools should pack up and leave.

    The controversy has brought a fuzzy aspect of Connecticut suburban life into focus: the fissure between yuppies and Yankees, the new and the old, between those willing to pay for top-flight schools and services and those who fear being priced out of their hometowns.

    "In the old days, my friends and I used to sit around and talk about sex," said Candels, 71. "Now we talk about how we're going to afford our town taxes next year."

    The divide can be deep because it is about more than budgets. It is, experts say, often about profoundly different notions of what a community is.

    Longtime residents often see their town in deeply personal terms, as the place where community means a lifelong commitment, experts say. For them, it's a place where they spend their lives volunteering in a wide range of activities to improve the town.

    Their surnames fill volunteer fire department rosters, street signs and Colonial-era cemeteries. The land their families farmed now supports luxury homes and shopping plazas.

    But Sonya Salamon, an expert on the suburbs, says newcomers tend to look at these towns with the discerning eye of a consumer. They want to know what amenities they have, how the schools compare with those in other communities and what sort of quality of life they will be able to enjoy.

    They want the American dream and don't think they should apologize if they are willing to pay for it. Why, newcomers to Avon have wondered, should longtime townspeople begrudge them that opportunity, especially when the older residents received those benefits themselves when their children were young?

    "The sad part is that what made these towns attractive in the first place were the great sense of community and caring they had," said Salamon, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author of "Newcomers to Old Towns: Suburbanization of the Heartland."

    "What we find is that many of the newcomers are urban-suburban people. They're not really rural people in the sense that the old-timers were, and their outlook is very different," Salamon said.

    "Unless they can find meaningful ways to interact, they don't create a mutual sense of community."

    That has been particularly obvious this year in Avon, a town still undergoing dramatic changes wrought by wealth, suburban sprawl and demands for quality schools. Similar battles have played out in Glastonbury, Tolland, Hebron and other towns.

    From a population of 3,100 in 1950, Avon has swollen to more than 16,000. Test scores place it among the state's highest-ranking school districts, mansions now overlook the valley, and housing values even in its most modest neighborhoods have skyrocketed.

    The market value of the average home in Avon increased from $289,500 in 1999 to $378,500 in 2003 - almost a 31 percent increase. If the proposed $57 million budget is approved in a townwide vote today, the combination of revaluation and spending increases will mean an average tax increase of 8.5 percent.

    The town faced similar strife in 1996, when voters narrowly approved renovating Avon High after months of ill will and accusations about lobbying tactics.

    The simmering tension over this year's budget reached a head in April when a letter written by Dorine and Steven Russo, a new couple in town, appeared in The Courant, saying some older residents were being "stubborn and prideful" in opposing the budget. Tempers also flared when about a dozen "yes" signs supporting the budget disappeared over the weekend.

    While many on both sides criticized the letter as extreme and condemned the sign thefts, the situation leaves people like Candels wondering what has happened to the congeniality of his once-rural community.

    "We old-timers want to preserve the heritage and traditions of our town, and what's wrong with that?" he said. "They want the best for their kids and I don't blame them. But we did a lot over the years to bring it to this point and we shouldn't feel pressure to get out."

    Ray, whose family moved to Connecticut from Illinois, said that her family and friends don't share the view of the couple that wrote the letter. But she acknowledged that the struggle for limited dollars reaches a painful crescendo at budget time, particularly when school programs are endangered.

    "People move to this town because of the schools - that's a no-brainer," said Ray, a frequent volunteer in the schools. "I do think our seniors are valuable, though, and I'm saddened that these rifts keep coming. The $64,000 question is how to resolve it, and I just don't know."

    The divide may be wide, but it is not insurmountable.

    Mark Zacchio, a member of Avon's finance board, straddles both sides of the issue. He is an Avon native whose father was the longtime police chief. Yet he also has two young children in a rapidly growing elementary school.

    Experts say people like Zacchio can hold the key to finding middle ground between old-timers and newcomers. "It comes down to talking with both sides all of the time, and I think that helps bridge the gap," he said.

    Another possible solution is simply the passage of time.

    "I don't know that it's a brand-new phenomenon, but it has different nuances now because people are coming in with bigger houses, newer cars and there's just so many more of them," said Glastonbury native Walter Cusson, a town council member.

    When Cusson's parents moved from Hartford to Glastonbury in 1946, old-time farmers nearby saw them as city folk who couldn't possibly understand and love Glastonbury as its natives did.

    Now, they're considered old-timers.

    "I'm sure some of the old Yankees we're talking about today were the newcomer suburbanites not too long ago," Cusson said.
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    East Windsor is starting to see big growth over the last couple of years. Even though I am young, I have been in this town for 26 years and I am on the old-timer side of things. It's a shame when you see all this farmland taken over for housing developments and the people in there assume everything should be handed to them; they have no sense of community what so ever...I could go on about this for days, but I am going to stop...
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    OK, Boys, first let me start out by saying that Leroy is back in the game. I finally broke down and parted with the measly 2 dollars a month that allows me to participate in the forums once again. (Even though most of the pages and FAQ's concerning this Memberzone nonsense says that with a basic free membership I can still participate in the forums, which is a load!) But I digress...... Adze and Dal, my fellow Nutmeggers to my North and East.....Try it down here on the gold coast! Most of the guys I work with here can not afford to live here in Fairfield...The education budget is astronomical, taxes are rising. I bought a house in Shelton about 7 years ago, about 30 minutes from work. Guess what? The same thing is starting to happen there, houses are being built like crazy, and real estate prices are on the rise. Where does it end? Who knows. OK, talk to yas later, and much more frequently from now on, I promise. Hello to all the fellas...Bouka, Jasper, Gonz, Dave, Artie, etc. etc. etc.............
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    Well I know exactly what this article is all about! I am one of those "Yuppies" (not realy just a firefighter). I built a house in Berlin, CT 2 years ago and have seen my taxes almost double in that time. Everybody wants to increase spending ALL the time especialy the BOE. I thought about selling, but it's the same everywhere! They keep threatening to cut services if they don't get a tax increase. I say cut all you want! What ever happened to the life we had as kids? Go out and play with your friends. All these programs they have now a days is great but not worth the expense. I have 2 kids and I still feel that way.
    There are elderly folks in my town forced to sell there farms because they can't afford to pay the taxes on them. We in Berlin just found out our mill rate is going up again. My taxes will be $7k a year! CRAZY!!!
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    Let me extend an invitation to all to join us in the Bright Sunny South where land and housing are cheap, taxes are low, and the education and employment opportunities are. . .well. . . the taxes are low!


    I find it interesting how much difference there is in the cost of living from place to place. I'm sure a lot of you would be appalled at a $28,000 starting salary for a firefighter, but a new 2000 sq. ft. home can still be found for under $200,000. My city taxes are $700 per year, county about the same. Of course sales tax is 10%, but I only pay $65 a year on motor vehicle registration.
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    Keith, what station do you work at? You can PM me if you don't feel like broadcasting it.
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    I am with Keith A8. I just moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina a week and a half ago.

    I worked as a Paramedic in Mass. and made mid $30K as a base pay. Average cost of a single family home in Massachusetts in 2003 was $399,900 and the average cost of a condo was above $250,000. I couldn't afford to live anymore. We had 5.3% income tax, 5% sales tax on everything but food and clothes, the schools stunk, property taxes were astronomical and you got bunk for services from the towns and cities. Property tax overrides every year with *0% of the municipal budget going to schools. Police, DPW, Firefighters all get laid off, but the schools add personnel - Where are the priorities? (I was lai off as a firefighter - one of 4 positions cut - and the school district added a few teachers that year. DPW had to lay off 3 or 4 guys too.) The roads were in TERRIBLE condition, no repairs made, traffic congestion that made my 3 mile commute take - get this - 20 minutes and I had to go through 9 traffic lights. Now I am finally free.

    I am in NC now, I make about $1500 less per year base pay. I am going to school full-time while I live here so I am renting for now, but the Mrs. and I could find a nice 3 bedroom home, with a garage, 2 baths, and on a sizeable chunk of land for less than $150,000. Property taxes would be about $800 per year.Our duplex would go for more than twice what we pay for rent now back in Mass. Who is kidding who here? I busted my butt to leave Massachusetts and I am finally out. I pray to God often that I will not have to go back to work there. I do not have children, do not want children, but I understand people wanting good schools for kids. Personally, I am not impressed with public schools anywhere because I do not feel that they adequately teach children the things necessary for life, and I doubt that I would ever send any children I may have to a public school. I always wonder why a private schools can educate a child for less than half of the per student cost of a public school, and why many private schools students do better on standardaized tests, and the SATs than public school kids? The things that make you go hmmmmm.

    The kicker of it all is that the old New England feeling in many of the small rural communities is rapidly disappearing. Where I lived, growing up, there were tons of dairy farms, now there is one family owned dairy farm left, and a VERY small one at that. What a shame. All of the other farms are gone too, replaced with $500,000 homes and strip malls. It makes me think of Alan Jackson's song "The Little Man."
    Last edited by DaSharkie; 05-13-2004 at 08:03 AM.
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    Default So what, my house is worth 2x what I paid for it 8 years ago

    Everyone down here near the NY boarder is slapping each other on the back because their houses are worth so much. I could not sell my house and buy a bigger house becase it would cost me an additional $500k to do so. I could not afford to buy my house that I live in, in todays market. Its gotten insane, a 3 bedroom cape 1,800 sq ft for $950k! I had seriously considered moving to Coppell(SP) Texas and taking a job in Dallas because of the cost up living up here. I could buy a house cash out their, with 4,500 sq ft!!!

    Problem is that no one is going to be able to live around here except the very weathly. Our town has this development that was aimed at low income housing. I had proposed that they open it up to the cops and town employees. I think it would be nice to have the people who work for the town to have a vested interest in the community they serve and protect.

    Everyone keeps talking about how cheap FLA is, it does not seem that way anymore. My parents pay more than I do down their for any tradesmen, their property taxes are more than mine too!
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    The exact same thing is happening in NJ. Yesterday was the school elections. The majority of school budgets went down to defeat. In reality, it means little, as the town governing bodies will cut very little. But it is a display of the anger that is occurring here.

    I pay almost $11,000 per year in property taxes. I do not live in a mansion. The overwhleming majority of my taxes go to the schools. For $11,000. I should have a top notch school system. But our school system is terrible. People here, especially senior citizens have had it.

    The NE is the "Hiome Rule Capital of the World". Regionalization is a dirty word. There are 39 towns in Morris County. There are almost 43 school boards (including regional high school districts). There are over 50 FD's. There are 37 PD's-some with only 6 officers. There are 38 DPW's. See the problem?

    The reason that the South is so reasonable is that most, if not all. services are based on a County system (except for the major cities). This consolidation could literally save millions and millions of dollars in NJ. But, alas. the peons that get their status from servnig on town councils and school boards would never give up their little fiefdoms voluntarily.

    This s a crisis that is going to come to a head in NJ within two years. stay tuned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFCLTE32
    Everyone keeps talking about how cheap FLA is, it does not seem that way anymore. My parents pay more than I do down their for any tradesmen, their property taxes are more than mine too!
    In north FL the taxes are low, the land/homes are inexpensive and the beaches(either coast) are close enough to make for great weekends . BUT..... you need to make sure that you have a stock-pile of plywood for the hurricane season!!

    Come on down, I'll buy ya a beer
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    Well, I still have no plans on moving back there, though I have told the Mrs. to choose between New Hampshire or Montana and we are buying 20 acres.

    These taxes are killing people. The yuppies couldn't care less because if the schools stink they move on to another community while the old one is still stuck with the high taxes of the yuppie.

    Must be nice to be able to make that choice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cityfire7
    In north FL the taxes are low, the land/homes are inexpensive and the beaches(either coast) are close enough to make for great weekends . BUT..... you need to make sure that you have a stock-pile of plywood for the hurricane season!!

    Come on down, I'll buy ya a beer
    You in the redneck Riviera? I will give you a shout next time I head down. I went to college right out side of Tampa, I loved it down there. Alot of fond memories, and those are just the ones I can remember!
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    Default Same here in Vermont as Conn..

    I looked at homes in Kentucky and Tenn. (where my family is orginally from) Down there what goes for 125K-150K (3 bed/2 bath/garage & good size lot) is 250k-300k+ here. The condo my wife bought is worth about 3 times what she paid for it a little over 4 years ago. That is the only good thing. But, to buy a house here is nearly impossible...they sell as fast as they go on the market. And I am sure, there are some people that are going FAR into debt doing it.

    It is unreal....so to my southern brothers....I may just be down there real soon!!!
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    I'm seriously thinking of moving to Jefferson City, TN.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    I'm seriously thinking of moving to Jefferson City, TN.
    The end is near! The end is near!
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    If you want cheap land, move to either northern or western Kansas. Land is cheap, but the tradeoff is that there's hardly anyone around. And you don't have any chain stores, most are mom-and-pop establishments (good or bad, depending on how you look at it).

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    When Nissan moved its corporate headquarters from California to Tennessee, its employees got quite a windfall. Imagine selling a $1 million home and coming to Tennessee and buying an identical home for $250k!
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