Monday, June 23, 2008

Some Milford Homes Fall Into Disrepair as Residents Struggle to Pay Bills

Over the last several months I have been walking around the district, the lower end of Milford, and while many of the high end, high value homes located along the waterfront are in great shape and in some cases being built to palatial status others are not so fortunate.

These homes are the inland homes, those located within the city and away from the waterfront. There were scores of homes that I personally visited in disrepair, these included broken steps, peeling paint, moss covered roofs, overgrown grass and trees and in many cases water damage from leaks inside the homes. The underlying cause of this problem stems from the occupants financial abilities and their priorities.

Some residents cited the disrepair issues as a result of the passing of a handy husband, while most others simply could not afford to complete something as basic as a paint job. With the average painter charging between $5,000 and $10,000 many town residents have not had incomes that are able to keep up with the surging cost of property taxes, energy, home maintenance, and food.

One such local man who I met on the trail had the (all to common story), that he just lost his job at a plumbing company citing that hard economic times have now impacted even the once reliable service sector. In my neighborhood alone almost all my neighbors save money by cutting their own grass and do their own landscaping.

Some locals blame this change on the local government and inattentive leaders. Our current representative Jim Amann is one person that I have learned yields either praise or utter contempt, one person in particular "said he lost track of his roots.. I remember when my son leader of the Young Democrats helped him get elected, today he has to call his secretary to make an appointment.". This alludes to the frustration, political disconnect, and confusion about why so many people in town have fallen behind due to their un-manageble economic difficulties.

My own personal opinion is that all the reasons cited by individuals on the trail may be correct, I agree that energy and taxes are among the main culprits, but none have hurt America more than our leaders in in Washington D.C. One item of particular concern has been the Feds abondoning states creating a financial hardship that force cities into the mistake of "locally taxing our way out of our problems." This works in the short term as we have seen this year but over time if the local, state, federal job situation does not improve, and incomes fail to keep up with the cost of living, than the old Chinese proverb that "water seeks its own level" may soon be a bitter reality.

This has been seen time and again and the best example of it is in economically challenged cities like Bridgeport and Waterbury. These homeowners have seen their mill rates rise as their home values plummeted. This happens because when homes are sold what is most important to a homeowner is whether or not they can afford to make that monthly payment. If they cannot they move on to a home that is priced less pushing down the value of the entire real estate market.

When houses sell for less the cities and state collect less taxes. The state collects less conveyance tax, and the city whose tax is based on a mill rate recieves less as it calculates out to a smaller payment. This is the dangerous "cat and mouse" game that municipalities play to keep their services "afloat." The balance and needs of public services Vs. taxpayers and their ability to pay is now with us long into the future. When this becomes imperiled the city will begin to gradually withdraw services from the community fueling increases in protests and political dissent in virtually all areas of government. The time to act is now, continuing to wait on these issues will result in further loss of hope of our towns people who are already very upset and disenfranchised.

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