A few years ago I learned that as we edge closer to our 60’s we feel more sharply time going by and the changes that come with age, especially the loss of friends.
In 2019 I lost a friend and Vermont lost a brilliant accountant. Jim Reardon died at age 61 of complications from heart disease and I have not known a person who cared more about Vermont or who understood more clearly the relationship between fiscal health and economic growth opportunities within our state.
Jimmy Reardon worked in the administrative offices of three governors and had the respect of many legislators. He protected the future of all Vermonters by taking seriously the relationship between tax burden and opportunity for economic growth. He understood well that economic growth could best be defined by growth in the tax base, not by increasing the tax burden on those already paying taxes.
Jim Reardon was honest, hard working, earnest and funny. He had a way of explaining things that was easily understood especially when he used his Yankee insight and humor.
I tried to memorize everything he tried to teach me.
The first time he explained to me the difference between a fee and a tax, he finished by telling me a fee came out of one pocket and a tax came out of the other, but both came from the same pair of pants.
If someone had made a mistake, Jim pointed it out in a gentle way that reminded us of the impact our fiscal work had on everyday Vermonters. There was no room for error.
He understood that the tax money we dealt with came from the effort of hard working Vermonters, and that we had responsibility to take care of it.
Jim Reardon had a deep sense of wanting to help the needy, the young and the elderly. He looked out for the vulnerable.
As years went by I learned more from him and he began to trust me as I trusted him. When I went to him one day very frustrated with one of the former Tax Commissioners, Jim whispered to me from across his desk that the Commissioner, ‘didn’t know one end of a calculator from another!’.
The death of my friend Jim Reardon is a loss to the entire state, but I count as blessings the many lessons he left.