I have to give accolades to Selectman Peter Meier for his proposal to help in trying to create a bylaw to help private roads have repairs made by Bourne, and not at the homeowners’ expense on said street.
Years ago it was said that Bourne had about 109 miles of public roads and 111 of private roads. This all came about when the Proposition 2½ bill was passed, legislation that restricted annual property tax increases unless the voters approved an override.
So what did the towns do? They made all roads thereafter built by builders where they had created new homes private roads, so the towns didn’t have to pay for any repairs on those roads.
Here’s the problem with that scenario: those streets are not private regarding who can drive on them. They are open to public domain.
But the real part that is totally and completely unfair is that the owners of those homes have to pay the same property tax rate but do not receive the same support by the town as the people who own homes along public roads.
I did not grow up in Massachusetts but I am amazed that there hasn’t been a class action lawsuit about paying the same property tax rate but not receiving the same ancillary support by the town.
In previous correspondence over the years, I have suggested that if all of us “private” road home owners would always vote “no” on any Proposition 2½ overrides, we could control at least Bourne, because there are more of us living on private roads than home owners on public roads. So no new schools, police stations and whatever, unless we are treated equally.
So my hat’s off to Selectman Meier for proposing a mere $100,000-per-year program. At least that’s a start, and I believe it should be considered at least a $200,000-per-year program to begin with.
Look at the $2 million that was spent building the playground in Buzzards Bay that had to be closed since last year. I look at it this way: the town has previously spent $30,000 for Christmas lights and $50,000 for a study for a bike trail along the railroad tracks. If we’re willing to throw money away for what some people deem important, then why shouldn’t we support funding repairs for our roads that everyone uses? Isn’t that more important than nice but not essential needs?
Daryl K. Smith