Saturday, August 26, 2017

Water and Sewer Bills

This past spring I made the decision to have a new front lawn installed. My lawn had serious problems and really needed an upgrade.  What does my lawn have to do with my campaign for city council?  My new lawn needed a lot of water. 

I knew my water bill would be high due to the irrigation necessary to establish the new lawn.  I received the water bill last week and it was about $300 more than my usual quarterly bill, totaling just over $500 for the quarter.  I knew this bill was coming, essentially I saw it as a cost of my new lawn, but still it definitely caught my attention.

When I was thinking about my abnormally high water bill, I took comfort knowing it would be only for one or two quarterly cycles.  It was then that I remembered that the "average family" residential water bill in Framingham is well over $1,800.  That means my “abnormally high” bill that shook my budget this month, is pretty darn close to what the average homeowner pays every quarter.  I realized that many people receive bills like this and can't look forward to relief next quarter!

My water bill drove the point home to me that water and sewer bills cannot keep on at the same rapidly ascending pace. Combined with having one of the highest tax rates in the Commonwealth, this will become unsustainable for many members of our community.

I was speaking to a constituent recently who said to me that we can’t control our bills, as most of the increase is the MWRA.  I explained that may have been the case years ago, but now it is not.  The increases are being driven by new debt service, reflective of much of the construction work you have seen happening almost constantly in recent years.

There is no question there has been some important work done to our water and sewer infrastructure over the past 10 years.  I am sure there is a lot more to be done too.  However, we have to engage in a public discussion and deliberation to discuss how much more debt we can afford.  We first must understand what exactly we are paying for.  Then, what options are there?  Are there less expensive ways to approach the problem?  

If we do not drill down on this issue, I fear how high our rates must go.  As a city councilor I commit to seriously studying this issue with the goal or eradicating the sharp rate increases of recent years.  If we do not succeed in that quest the affordability of Framingham is going beyond the reach of many.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Water and Sewer Facts

The combination of water and sewer bills along with the property tax bill cause many Framingham households struggle to meet these costs.  We need to work hard and fight to keep Framingham vibrant and affordable for all.  I am confident I can assist in this endeavor as part of our first city council.

Fact 2

Framingham's water and sewer rates have more than doubled over the last ten years.  The average residential water bill this year is in the $1,800 range on an annual basis.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fast Facts

I am passionate about tax stabilization and how it impacts affordability.  Sometimes it makes me  write way too much.  For those who may not want to read all the detail, I am going to offer some quick facts over the next few days that I think spells out the problem we face as a community with our current tax situation.

Fact 1

Over the last ten years the average home value has declined about 5% in Framingham and the average tax bill has increased over 30.   #unsustainable

Friday, August 11, 2017

An Ongoing Concern

I am a bit of a broken record, but I am compelled to keep talking about the need to stabilize our taxes! 

Like many candidates I have been walking around the neighborhoods of our community for the last couple of months.  One of the concerns I have had going into this campaign was the high residential tax rate.  Talking with people at their homes, I have more than satisfied myself that mine are not isolated concerns.

Framingham’s single tax rate is higher than any town around.  Luckily the homeowner does not feel the entire impact, because Framingham “shifts” excess burden to businesses.  However, in order to compare the cost of our municipal operation, this is the rate we should use.  Framingham’s rate in 2017 is $21.52.  Natick (which actually uses a single tax rate) is $13.49.  If we were taxing apples to apples, it would cost over $800 more in taxes per $100,000 of value to live in Framingham rather than Natick.   A $300,000 house in Framingham would cost $2,400 more in taxes.

Due to the rate split that is not the case.  But it still costs $325 more per $100,000 of valuation to live in Framingham. The $300,000 house in Framingham only costs about $1,000 more a year than in Natick.   Some people say, yeah but a $300,000 house in Framingham is worth at least $450,000 in Natick so they will actually pay more!!  Well that may be so, but why are Framingham’s values down 5% over the last ten years and Natick’s are up 10%?

Values play a critical role, because If you were enjoying a significant uptick in home value, maybe the level of taxes would be more acceptable.  State statistics show that on the average your home is worth a bit less than it was 10 years ago in Framingham, but the tax bill is up over 30% in that same time frame.  Rising taxes and lowering values is an economic pitfall that must be rectified.

We have to make our government more efficient and I believe the city council form of government can do that.  I have the commitment, knowledge and experience to help the city council accomplish that task.  We do not have to reduce services; revenue growth has been robust in Framingham.  We have to spend efficiently and effectively.  We need to work hard to increase our values and decrease our taxes.  That is the approach that will benefit our economy and our quality of life.  I am committed to fighting to keep Framingham affordable for all of us.  I ask for your support on September 26th and November 7th.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

This is a good ten minute synopsis of some of the issues I think are important in this campaign