Tuesday, July 25, 2017
This newspaper article says there is about a $900,000 deficit in the present year town budget. I appreciate the transparency, but I am not as enthused about the potential solutions. The Selectman have wisely said they will not recommend raising property taxes closer to the limit this year in order to meet the deficit. In reality though, if the administration uses the $700,000 source of funds mentioned in the article to cover the deficit, it is in fact a raise of property taxes.
We have been told the $700,000 was raised temporarily to ultimately smooth the tax split, not add to the permanent base. This $700,000 is something I have written about in the past. It was raised on our tax rate, yet never appropriated by Town Meeting. Back to my days on the Finance Committee, I was concerned about the cost this represented to the taxpayer, and if this solution is adopted the cost becomes permanent.
We need to stabilize our tax rate in Framingham, as our rate is one of the highest in the state. It impacts the affordability of our town for many residents and it could imperil the financial stability of the Town if it keeps growing. In a couple of recent years at this time we have had about a $5,000,000 surplus in the budget, but there was no public discussion of returning the money to the taxpayers. Instead it was just left alone and flowed to our surplus (free cash). Last year’s surplus should smooth this year’s small deficit. The $700,000 should be used as planned to reduce the levy.
These financial issues are complex and they impact all of us. We can continue to fund our town well and offer excellent services, yet while stabilizing our tax rate increases. I am confident that if I am elected to the city council I can offer meaningful leadership in these matters to benefit taxpayers. We can’t continue to burden the taxpayer for incidental deficits, especially when we seem to never benefit the taxpayer with incidental surpluses.
It is true the Town has raised taxes less than the maximum levy the last few years. However, given the surpluses we have realized in those years we could have avoiding raising taxes at all. Those opportunities do not come around often; I hope we have not missed our chance.
Stabilization of our tax bills is complex. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will make it my highest priority.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Taxes are a subject of great concern to me. Throughout this campaign I will continue to talk about why I feel we can substantially slow the growth of our real estate taxes and still maintain our fabulous local services.
Framingham has one of the highest tax rates in the state. As odd as it seems, that is not directly related to how much we pay in taxes. Instead it is a negative indicator as to the value of our real estate. Over the last ten years, many municipalities have seen the tax rate go down (not the tax bill), because real estates values have went up. Framingham is an outlier.
To explain that simply, if the tax rate is $10 per thousand and a house is valued at $90,000, the tax bill is $900. If the same house increases in value to $100,000 the tax rate would have to go down to $9 per thousand in order to collect the same amount of money. The same amount of money is collected, but the rate is different. It is important to the community to keep the rate lower if possible.
The fact that our tax rate has been going up is indicative of the fact our values have not increased as rapidly as other towns. Why is a similar house in the next town worth so much more?
We can address these issues and if elected I promise to make sure it is an issue in the forefront of the new government. Over the next few posts I am going to explore some of the reasons why this may be happening, why it matters and what we can do about it. Keeping our community fiscally sound and affordable is the goal, and without understanding this issue we will not be able to do that.
Thank you for reading, and as always please email me or call me with any questions, thoughts and concerns.
Sunday, July 2, 2017
The Metrowest Daily news ran my announcement today, click on this link to read it if you have not.
I am keeping busy over the holiday weekend to get the campaign plans in place and the word out to voters. It is going to be an exciting local election for Framingham. Something that has been missing in recent years. Competition is good for all of us, and it will make for better results for the town.