The Falmouth mil rate (tax per $1,000 on real estate) has risen in the last two years from $12.92 to $14.12, an increase of $1.20. This is a 9.29 percent increase. On a $300,000 home, this is a $360 increase, which must also be paid every year thereafter.

Last spring, with the help of some members of the Falmouth Republican Town Committee, I undertook a survey of residents 60 and over. There was one question about paying real estate taxes: No challenge, a little challenge, or a considerable challenge?

Respondents were randomly picked from within the age group, promised anonymity and not encouraged to pick any particular answer. The results were: “no challenge,” 14.6 percent; “a little challenge,” 43.9 percent, and “a considerable challenge,” 41.5 percent. Falmouth has about 2,600 residents 60 or over, meaning at least 1,050 residents believe they are financially challenged when paying their real estate taxes.

While most residents still have jobs and are able to pay their taxes, there are a great many who can no longer meet their financial obligations as easily as they used to. In the last five years, household income has dropped over 5 percent, unemployment is still very high, under-employment is rampant, interest rates paid on savings are essentially zero, and the prices of food, gas and foreign-made products have skyrocketed.

Before we increase our tax rate any more, let’s be certain that our neighbors can afford it.

Bill Beyer