I’m having an eye exam and the optometrist and I are talking about Bethlehem, the town in upstate New York where we both live. She says she likes Bethlehem but where she lives in a newer development she can’t really walk anywhere. And there aren’t many good restaurants. But most of all what bothers her are the high taxes.
She says she just became an empty nester with her second child off to college now, and the school tax bill due this month suddenly seems hefty.
It’s true that we pay for our schools in Bethlehem. And in return, the schools have done my family well. Both of my kids received quality educations and went on to college and graduate schools.
But neither the doc nor I have children in the Bethlehem schools anymore. When the bus comes by in the morning and afternoon, it’s other kids in the neighborhood getting picked up and dropped off.
I don’t mind continuing to pay the school tax because I’m in favor of having all children well-educated. I tell this to the doc while she’s asking me what’s clearer: one or two, two or three. And I can tell she’s never thought of school taxes this way before.
I say if you don’t want to pay taxes to support public school education then go ahead and move somewhere else. West Virginia won’t cost you much in school tax. Arkansas won’t.
As for the restaurants, yeah, Bethlehem kinda falls short. As for walkability, I’m lucky. I live in a neighborhood where I can walk to the supermarket, to my optometrist or dentist appointment, to the local saloon for a beer, and to some of those mediocre restaurants. Plus I’m only a few paces away from an incredible rail trail.
And doc, it’s not like I’m seeing Bethlehem through rose-colored glasses. There’s not a lot of charm here, there aren’t historic neighborhoods, and I’m not looking at a lake outside my window. But I’ve been in my house and this town for 27 years, so I guess I live here. I could have done a lot worse—and the schools are fine and provide an excellent education and they don’t ban books. Even better, they just resurfaced the high school and middle school tennis courts and the public is welcome to use them when school is not in session!