I was one of hundreds of people who attended Casey Cep's riveting talk about her bestselling nonfiction book, "Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and The Last Trial of Harper Lee." Her talk was well described in the June 26 issue of this paper.
What really hit me to the core was Casey Cep's references to her appreciation to the teachers, programs, and lessons learned while attending Talbot County Public Schools. She expressed her disappointment about the tax cap remaining at a stagnant rate.
I had firsthand knowledge about the creation of the tax cap. I was married to Emery Hertelendy when he was president of the Talbot County Taxpayer's Association, and formulated the cap. Emery created the cap for personal reasons. He was able to live a very privileged life, (not by working), but living off the interest of trust funds. He invested in properties worth millions of dollars.
Emery believed in "Pay as You Go." If YOU use it, YOU pay for it. Since he did not use many of the services funded by property taxes, he did not want to fund them. The tax cap level was set at a ridiculously low level to keep Emery's property taxes low. He did not use the public schools; Hog Neck; airport; etc. Let them fend for themselves. Unfortunately, many others shared the same opinion. They would pat each other on the back while eating donuts and drinking coffee at their monthly TCTA meetings.
I have been visiting the Easton Elementary School for seven years with my therapy dogs. I have witnessed the decline due to lack of funds. Many teachers pay for items out of their own pockets for their students. Large classrooms need more aides.
Paying taxes is a privilege. We are in damage control mode. A better approach would be to fund the services up front. I am ashamed of our tax cap.
BARBARA LEE JEFFERSON