To the Editor:
I read with great interest Mr. Danny Hall’s Jan. 17 letter to the editor (“Another Grinch?”), regarding my comments at a Jan. 9 City Council finance committee hearing – comments made in a response to a resolution put forth by Councilwoman Vella-Wilkinson regarding veterans.
I am writing to respond to the points of that debate, but first, let me respond to Mr. Hall. If I were Mr. Hall, someone who represents the Warwick Republican Party, he being Warwick Republican Chair, I would first get my facts straight. Secondly, if I were going to spin the debate that took place, as Mr. Hall did, I would at least comment on the stated goal of the overall discussion so readers could at least determine the merits of the points in question. Since he failed to do that, let me try.
My heart will always be with those that place themselves in harm’s way. My uncle was on Bataan, went through that 60-mile hell march, and was a POW in Tokyo until 1945 – is skull smashed in the process. My father served on Okinawa and Saipan during that same war and my cousin was presented with a Purple Heart because of wounds suffered in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. I don’t need you, Mr. Hall, trying to spin what was said or the context of the discussion when it comes to veterans. I have personally seen the consequences of wounds and service in combat zones.
First off, this debate had nothing to do with, as you stated, Mr. Hall, a pool pass for disabled veterans. That discussion took place at a prior meeting where no member of the public objected. What was brought up by members of the council at that time was that they would like to see an estimate of the financial impact of such a pool pass. As far as I know, that is where the issue currently stands.
At the next council meeting, the one you, Mr. Hall, apparently refer to, another proposal was brought forth to provide an additional group of veterans with a tax exemption. This exemption would be similar to that presently provided by Warwick to veterans but would enlarge the pool of those eligible. That resolution was put forth by Councilwoman Vella-Wilkinson, the same person who put forth the pool pass resolution.
The bottom line of my comments regarding the tax exempt resolution was that as a taxpayer, I would like to see any proposed tax exemptions, be it for veterans or any other worthy cause, be offset by cuts to expenses. As I stated at that meeting, it is very easy to give taxpayer money away, but the hard decisions, the real work, comes from where to find that money. The easy road has always been to tax, tax and tax.
My challenge at that council meeting was for, in this case, Councilwoman Vella-Wilkinson to tell us what expenses she would cut in our city budget in order to finance this tax exemption. In fact, I stated that maybe the council should consider requiring those members who initiate this type of resolution where tax dollars are involved be required to tell us how it is going to be paid for. I would think that finding money to finance that veteran exemption or any other exemption would be very easy in a $170 million budget. However, when the residents of Warwick were hit with both a property tax and a car tax increase in this last budget session it became obvious that only a few council members were interested in trying to hold the tax line.
As for being a “Grinch,” my line of thought just comes from being an Aauditor and a CPA. As for “Feel Good”, there is not anyone in this community who would not feel better if they had the resources to give money away or to provide assistance to others. It is up to those elected to walk that line of what is for the common good. My actions were based on the common good.
To our veteran, thank you for your service.