A Local Project to Thank Taxpayers for their Contributions to the Common Good
In April of 2013, I worked with the League of Women Voters in my hometown, Northampton Massachusetts, on a project to thank local taxpayers for their contributions to the common good. The idea was to remind our citizens of all the good they are doing through the city government programs funded by their taxes. We created a two-sided flyer that was included in the local newspaper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette. On the front was a picture of our downtown and the words: “Thank you, Northampton Taxpayers! You are helping to make Northampton a better place for all of us to live. Together, during the last year, we helped to educate 2,700 children, recycle 7.5 million pounds of valuable materials, respond to 4,992 emergency medical calls, maintain 150 miles of road, and much, much more.” The reverse contained a detailed list of many of the important government programs that benefited local citizens. We pointed out, for example, that their tax dollars made the city much safer in the last year by enabling the police to respond to 43,784 calls for assistance, investigate over 1,700 serious crimes, and arrest 856 suspected criminals. (For the full list, see below.)
This is a project that you could easily do in your hometown. Most of the information about the many benefits of local government is readily available at city hall or your city government web site. A few e-mails to local government administrators will probably be necessary to fill in some of the blanks. And then money can be raised to pay for the flyer. Our flyer cost about $400 for a newspaper that covers a city of 30,000 – and it was generously paid for by the Northampton League of Women Voters. Taxpayers are often only vaguely aware of how their dollars are being spent. This kind of project can be a valuable and effective way to show people the enormous benefits of collective action through our local governments.
Second Page of Flyer:
Here are some of important things Northampton taxpayers helped to do last year:
“I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes