Commentary

printed 03/05/2021

Worcester County’s covid-19 vaccine problem is like the school funding problem in reverse.

The county’s vaccine allocation is not sufficient to meet the demand, because the state doesn’t take into account the tens of thousands of vaccine candidates who live here part-time.

Meanwhile, school funding from the state is reduced to paltry levels because the tax base — the source of county school finances — is boosted to the highest per capita level in the state in part by properties these part-time residents own.

As a result, the county’s bona fide year-round residents are getting the short end of the stick. They can’t get vaccines because people not included in the census are competing for slots, and they are having to shoulder a higher percentage of school funding, because of properties they don’t own.

The school funding formula is more complicated than that, of course, and it’s more of a matter of a less-than-wealthy population being considered on par financially with investors and owners of second homes and vacation properties.

The vaccine problem, however, is clear: residents are having to compete with nonresidents, whose frequent presence is unaccounted for in the census or any other official calculation.

Finding a remedy for this shortchanging of Worcester residents is more than a matter of fairness. It’s the reality of things that’s being ignored.

Surely, state officials, elected and otherwise, can see this inequity and find some middle ground on these fronts so year-round residents are treated more like every other resident of the state in all regards.

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