Monday, July 09, 2007

What Do You Mean Free?

Sometimes I feel like a spy. No, I'm not peeking in my neighbor's windows at night! Instead, I get a peek into how two very different communities offer services to their residents.

I live part of the year in a very bustling, bedroom community. It's filled with people who moved there because of the excellent school district and the services the community has to offer. (You can ask anyone, no one is shy about telling you this.)

However, for two months out of the year, I live in a sleepy Adirondack town. My kids' high school has more students in it than this town has year round residents.

As you might assume, my school and property taxes are significantly lower in the Adirondacks. I always assumed that the services offered here would be significantly less than the ones offered at home, but I was wrong.

In the Adirondacks, my garbage pick up is included in my town taxes. The day camp at the local school is free to year round residents and seasonal residents. (This was the revelation that prompted today's title. Its what I said last year when I found out about this program.) My boy's actually attended their first day of camp today and they had a blast. There are free swimming lessons for year round and seasonal residents. We have a town dump that is open year round and accepts things like used motor oil to recycle. We have a voluntary lake association that oversees the quality of the lake water and dues are only $25 per year to join this very worthwhile organization. The town's three beaches are free and open to residents and visitors alike.

In the Hudson Valley, we our garbage pickup is not included in our taxes. We have to pay a seperate company for this service. Day camp is definitely not free. There used to be free swimming lessons offered at the local gym but this program was discontinued. You have to pay to go to the local pool, there is no beach. The town dump is open two times per month April thru October although sometimes they skip months. They also do not accept things like waste oil.

Both communities offer free concerts during the summer months.

I have one burning question to ask. Why is it that an upper middle class Hudson Valley community offers so few services when the taxes collected are at least three times the amount taken in the Adirondacks? Services offered for tax dollars paid is definitely somthing to check out before choosing a community to live in.

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