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How to get voters to back a tax increase

Posted by Your Town  March 25, 2007 10:35 PM

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Selectwoman Colleen Corona led a successful effort in Easton last June on a $3.4 million tax increase for yearly town services. Since then, she has become somewhat of a guru on how to get voter support for such measures.

Last fall, Corona taught a seminar at Massasoit Community College for selectmen and finance committee members looking at possible overrides for operational budgets. She also did a presentation on the subject at a state gathering of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and has advised several towns statewide looking at promoting tax increases this spring.

Corona said Easton was successful because promoters worked at the grass roots level. "We were using Deval Patrick's method even before he used it," Corona quipped.

For towns where overrides have failed, Corona suggests that cuts resulting from that failure are made publicly, so townspeople don't feel threats had simply been used as scare tactics.

"Unity of elected officials is also very important," Corona continued. "And a lot of effort should go into achieving that goal. It is important to realize that everyone is not going to agree on the amount or destination of funds, but agreement can usually be reached on the necessity for an override."

Outreach is critical, according to Corona. Easton held over 23 neighborhood meetings, she said.

"Campaign at the grass roots level," Corona said. "The campaign will need a volunteer in every neighborhood and on every street."

-- Christine Wallgren

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About override central Coverage of Prop 21/2 override campaigns in more than 30 communities in Greater Boston.
Christine Wallgren is a correspondent in the Globe South bureau.
David Dahl is the Globe's regional editor.
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