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Thread: New Beach House/Electronic Voting

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I was pointing out tax neutrality as a fact, not an argument pro or con.

    The underlying Finance Committee philosophy of (capital) tax neutrality isn't a justification of any particular expenditure, but rather, an intent to maintain our infrastructure in general as opposed to allowing it to decay.
    It does have a cost to the taxpayers. Its a missed opportunity for taxes to go down.

    So the expression from now on isn't tax neutral its *tax maintaining*

  2. #17
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    "Tax neutral" and "tax maintaining" are essentially synonymous. The latter doesn't flow quite as nicely, in my opinion. Is there an objection to the phrase "tax neutral?" I think that it compactly and accurately describes the circumstance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    "Tax neutral" and "tax maintaining" are essentially synonymous. The latter doesn't flow quite as nicely, in my opinion. Is there an objection to the phrase "tax neutral?" I think that it compactly and accurately describes the circumstance.
    Here is the difference.
    'Tax Neutral' is kind of a benign term which says that everything is OK.
    'Tax Maintaining' says more of what it really is... you taxes ain't goin down... were maintaining them for ya !

    Thats the difference... albeit describing the same event.

    If I come up with an even more offensive term, I will surely let you know.

  4. #19
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    Default Misleading, 1984ish term

    The term tax neutral has always bugged me.
    Whenever I've heard it used, there is an important part of the definition that is never pointed out.

    The term is usually defined by saying that taxes won't go up, debt that is coming off the books will roll over into this new debt.
    The obvious piece that is never spelled out is that taxes won't go DOWN at a point at which they otherwise could.

    It is the equivalent of a mortgage company convincing the homeowner that they ought to refinance and use the equity in their home. They neglect to point out the obvious, that in doing so you are perpetuating your debt, rather than getting out of it.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
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  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    It is the equivalent of a mortgage company convincing the homeowner that they ought to refinance and use the equity in their home. They neglect to point out the obvious, that in doing so you are perpetuating your debt, rather than getting out of it.
    I think a better analogy is that the car is now paid off and you could still drive it for another 50,000 miles and the family presses you to buy a new one right away (of equal payment) so that you never see a break in your cash flow obligation.

    In you example John, at least the mortgage company was handing you either credit or cash for you in return... but I get the sentiment.

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    Darn, we're off topic again. It's never clear until it's "too late" that it would have been better to start a new thread.

    I don't understand why the obvious piece needs to be spelled out if it's obvious. "Tax neutral" is a compact phrase used to avoid writing out a lengthier description. Sometimes we do this in the form of jargon (one example is "debt exclusion," which isn't nearly as descriptive as "tax neutral"). Writing (and reading) becomes too cumbersome if we don't assume some prior knowledge on the part of the reader. As "transgressions" go, this one seems pretty far down the list.

    In my opinion, the Finance Committee doesn't use "tax neutral" to obfuscate anything. In this presentation on FY11 capital, they define the term (slide 7). I think that their definition could have been clearer, but I don't think that they are trying to hide, spin, or confuse.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Darn, we're off topic again. It's never clear until it's "too late" that it would have been better to start a new thread.
    No No No No and No
    Your post #17 said 'Tax Neutral' the genesis of this... and the Beach House is being financed by a 'tax maintaining' ballot question so this is a spot-on thread as opposed to being off-thread.

    But if you want to continue this on another thread then feel free to visit NO MENU - NO OVERRIDE a great and lonely thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I don't understand why the obvious piece needs to be spelled out if it's obvious. "Tax neutral" is a compact phrase used to avoid writing out a lengthier description. Sometimes we do this in the form of jargon (one example is "debt exclusion," which isn't nearly as descriptive as "tax neutral"). Writing (and reading) becomes too cumbersome if we don't assume some prior knowledge on the part of the reader. As "transgressions" go, this one seems pretty far down the list.
    Jeff, nobody is accusing anybody of transgressions.... but both terms 'tax neutral' and 'tax maintaining' (as they describe exactly the same thing) have different connotations of SPIN.
    I just happen to think that the latter SPIN's closer to the truth.
    Last edited by AlanJReiss; 05-08-2010 at 07:05 AM. Reason: Advertising purposes....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I was pointing out tax neutrality as a fact, not an argument pro or con.
    The first two posts in this thread expressed concerns about making a large expenditure to improve the beach house. You then posted your fact, preceded by the word remember.

    Clearly you weren't arguing against the expenditure. What then was your objective, if it wasn't to induce the two preceding posters to overcome their reservations?

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    "Tax neutral" and "tax maintaining" are essentially synonymous. The latter doesn't flow quite as nicely, in my opinion. Is there an objection to the phrase "tax neutral?" I think that it compactly and accurately describes the circumstance.
    As anyone who's ever managed a budget of any significance knows, the term budget neutral is a red flag that means inspect this proposal carefully, as there are may be opportunities to reduce costs. Tax neutral is the governmental analog of budget neutral.

    Given the planned increase in debt service for the new high school, is the proposed budget truly tax neutral?

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    I was pointing out tax neutrality as a fact, not an argument pro or con.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    The first two posts in this thread expressed concerns about making a large expenditure to improve the beach house. You then posted your fact, preceded by the word remember.

    Clearly you weren't arguing against the expenditure. What then was your objective, if it wasn't to induce the two preceding posters to overcome their reservations?
    Sometimes a fact is just a fact. I pointed this particular fact out for informational purposes. What different people do with it is their perogative. For instance, some (Alan and you, perhaps) may look at this as an opportunity to cut taxes (and services). Others may look at it as a way to maintain services (while not increasing taxes).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    As anyone who's ever managed a budget of any significance knows, the term budget neutral is a red flag that means inspect this proposal carefully, as there are may be opportunities to reduce costs. Tax neutral is the governmental analog of budget neutral.
    I don't see "budget neutral" (or "tax neutral") as necessarily being "red flags." Those terms are outcomes of a budget process. If the budget process was taken seriously, those responsible will have taken the time to consider service levels and costs along the way.

    That said, I see nothing unreasonable about those putting together the budget starting their effort with the goal of being budget/tax neutral if it's their opinion that legitimate requests will significantly exceed available funds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Given the planned increase in debt service for the new high school, is the proposed budget truly tax neutral?
    No, and if your point is that the fact of the high school project and its debt impact should also be included in the conversation about the tax neutral capital items, I agree. I should have included that important consideration in my original post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Sometimes a fact is just a fact. I pointed this particular fact out for informational purposes. What different people do with it is their perogative.
    We've been around this mulberry bush before -- recall the apples vs. oranges comparison of student performance -- and you eventually conceded. Need we repeat the process?

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    I don't recall the apples/oranges comparison (at least, by that description; I don't mind being reminded, however), so it's hard for me to say whether this is the same or even a similar mulberry bush. (Technically, I think that it's trees on which mulberry's grow.)

    So sure, let's repeat--I'll be interested to see how a single fact compares to a comparison of what would appear to be facts.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I don't see "budget neutral" (or "tax neutral") as necessarily being "red flags." Those terms are outcomes of a budget process. If the budget process was taken seriously, those responsible will have taken the time to consider service levels and costs along the way.

    That said, I see nothing unreasonable about those putting together the budget starting their effort with the goal of being budget/tax neutral if it's their opinion that legitimate requests will significantly exceed available funds.
    It's certainly possible that in assembling a proposed budget, the Finance Committee objectively considered all requests and recommended only those they deemed absolutely essential -- and that the result being "tax neutral" is mathematical coincidence. This possibility is what led me to say that there may be opportunities to reduce costs.

    However, the recommendation to borrow $1.12M to rebuild a beach house in this economic environment sounds too much like the answer to the question "We're retiring a $1M in debt; what's next on the list?"

    The debt service on that $1.12M could alternatively fund a significant fraction of a teacher, or a valuable educational initiative or two. Or we could mitigate the impact of the impending High School tax increase.
    Last edited by Dave Bernstein; 05-10-2010 at 12:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I don't recall the apples/oranges comparison (at least, by that description; I don't mind being reminded, however), so it's hard for me to say whether this is the same or even a similar mulberry bush. (Technically, I think that it's trees on which mulberry's grow.)
    In the Elementary School MCAS scores thread, you posted facts -- MCAS data from four groups of Elementary School students -- in an attempt to disprove an anonymous poster's assertion that students who endured relocation produced lower MCAS scores. You concluded this post with "With respect to the Town Crier poster's allegations that MCAS scores slipped and that the reconfiguration was the cause, the data suggests otherwise". However, the data came from different groups of students (hence my "apples and oranges" reference), meaning that it neither supported nor refuted the anonymous poster's assertion -- a point you ultimately (after 92 posts) conceded in http://www.waylandenews.com/forum/sh...=2737#post2737 and http://www.waylandenews.com/forum/sh...=2738#post2738.

    In this thread, you responded to the original poster's concern about spending $1M to improve a beach house by posting the fact that the proposed budget was "tax neutral", prefaced by the word Remember. You could have only been seeking to induce the conclusion that spending the $1M would be acceptable because taxes would not increase, thereby allaying the poster's concerns. Once again, you've used a fact to induce an conclusion not supported by that fact.

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