To the Editor:
A little over a year ago, I had a conversation with the finance director for the Town of Creston. I asked questions as to why Creston’s non-profits, mainly churches, were being charged taxes: going from a 100 per cent exemption to a 95 per cent exemption. There was no valid reason for charging these taxes to non-profits other than the town needed more money. Yes, more money is needed, as residential taxes keep increasing. I tried to explain to the finance director that trying to take extra revenue from non-profits was a terrible way to extract the needed revenue. More so, funds should be found by trying to decrease the average total costs within the town’s budget (better efficiency/management).
I am all for trying to promote businesses, which in turn brings in revenue, which in turn increases the gross domestic product (GDP), but promoting businesses by a local revitalization tax exemption program and conversely taking extra taxes from non-profits seems very unjust. It is good for the GDP, and it definitely helps the local businesses, but it does little for the townspeople that rely on these non-profits for a meaningful life. I am not saying not to promote the revitalization tax exemption program; I am saying to stop trying to get extra revenue from non-profits and churches. Find other business efficiency techniques to meet the town budget.
Most non-profits, and especially churches exist on small donations, so they are not rolling in funds. Many churches in this town barely have enough to cover their costs. Some churches and other non-profits have had to close their doors. The majority of Creston’s citizens are seniors on fixed incomes, and they are the majority of church and other non-profit attendees. These non-profit organizations are what give a wealth of seniors their community, joy and existence. And these seniors should not be involuntarily taxed through their supporting non-profits.
What this looks like is a little bit like a Sheriff of Nottingham mentality, taking taxes from those that can least afford it. Again, I am not saying businesses can afford extra taxes — probably most cannot. It is a struggle for some small businesses to keep existing in this town. But, taxing is not the only option to meet the town’s costs, and a Robin Hood approach might not be the correct way. The town needs to find more efficient ways to cut costs.