Open discussion thread: Ask questions, share opinions

by susan on January 18, 2010

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Photo by Southborough resident Chris Wraight

Time for another open thread. For those of you new to the blog, the open discussion thread is your place to ask questions, sound off on town issues, or share information with other readers. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Ask questions about programs in town or the town itself
  • Post a note about things that you’re selling or giving away, or things that you want
  • Share notices about upcoming events (Southborough or otherwise)
  • Register your thoughts on town issues or news stories
  • Point out interesting or helpful resources

You can add comments to the thread throughout the week. Check back often to see new comments. (If you read the blog via email or RSS, you might want to check the site from time to time for new comments.)

To view past open discussion threads, click here.

1 Al Hamilton January 18, 2010 at 2:28 PM

For most of the last decade Southborough taxpayers have been overcharged for their property taxes. The reason for this overcharge lies in an obscure set of law suits making their way through the courts. The question being contested is, “do cities and towns have the right to collect property taxes on telecommunications equipment located within their borders?” During this time the Board of Assessors collected the taxes from the telecom companies but did not turn them over to the general fund, which is the source of money for municipal and school operations. The money is held in the “overlay reserve account” and the telecom balance has risen to about $2.3 million. Over the last decade the withholding of this money was a reasonable and prudent thing for the Board of Assessors to do as there was realistic possibility that we might have to return the money, with interest, to the telecoms if they prevailed in court. Other towns chose to take the risk and spend the money. This writer approves of the Boards actions to date.

Things have changed in the last year, the suits appear to have been sufficiently resolved in favor of Cities and Towns that the Board of Assessors is no longer holding back the current payments made by telecom companies. However, there remains the issue of what to do with the $2.3 million dollars sitting in the overlay reserve account. The question at hand: “Is the Town ethically entitled to spend this windfall?” The answer, in my opinion is NO!

The only body that determines how much money will be raised by the property tax is Town Meeting, not the Selectmen, School Committee or the Board of Assessors. When Town Meeting votes for spending it votes for property taxes. Because the telecoms taxes were in doubt the Board of Assessors had to over-collect from all of the rest of us. This amounts to about $50-$75 per year on a typical house. The total over-collection is on the order of $600 for an average home in Southborough.

Now that the situation appears to be mostly resolved it the only appropriate action is to return the overpayments to the people that made them, the taxpayers. Refunds based on past payments are probably beyond the capacity of Town Hall to administer so the next best solution is to provide a one time tax reduction in the next fiscal year.

Make no mistake about it, many of the vested interests in town politics believe this money belongs to the Town not the taxpayers. The reality is Town Meeting over the last decade authorized the collection of a certain sum of money from the property tax and the Board of Assessors raised that sum plus $2.3 million. If you want your $600 back, which in my opinion you are entitled to, you will need to become involved and informed. One way is to join the Southborough Taxpayers Association to join send an email to southboroughtax@googlegroups.com the group and its initial discussion threads can be found at http://groups.google.com/group/southboroughtax

2 Phil January 18, 2010 at 2:29 PM

For those of you who haven’t heard, Eaton Apothecary sold many of it’s stores to Walgreens. The Southborough location, however, will remain Eaton Apothecary and the same staff will be there to serve you. I work as a technician there and I would like to express our gratitude towards the community and we look forward to serving you in the future!

3 Heather January 19, 2010 at 8:42 AM

We love Eaton’s and are glad you’ll be staying in the neighborhood! Thanks!

4 Chris January 18, 2010 at 3:07 PM

I was wondering if you had a contact for the ladder ball organizers. I did not attend but made a donation. I tried to email Rebecca, but the email failed. I paid by check but don’t received canceled checks back hence the need for a receipt.

So I’m wondering if they are able to mail out an official receipt so I can claim it for tax purposes.

Thanks…

Chris

5 John January 18, 2010 at 11:55 PM

Try contacting the Fire Chief or his Administrative Secretary. Not that either is responsible, but they should be able to point you in the right direction.

6 John Mauro, Jr January 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM

Chris:

Contact me at firechief@southboroughma.com and I will ensure the Fire Ball Committee receives your information.

The donation letters are due to go out any time.

John D. Mauro, Jr.,
Fire Chief

7 Jim January 18, 2010 at 7:26 PM

We’re looking for a 4 BR home in town. I think there are probably people interested in selling, but perhaps waiting to list because of the market conditions. We’re interested in talking to you if you are ready to sell your 4 BR in a great family neighborhood. We are ready to purchase the right home immediately. Please contact us at sbsearch88@gmail.com

8 Neil Rossen January 19, 2010 at 7:13 AM

A number of town issues have already been raised that refer to the fiscal issues facing the town. These can be found at http://groups.google.com/group/southboroughtax?hl=en

9 Angela January 19, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Could anyone recommend good summer camp programs geared towards kindergarten (going into first grade) age students? A variety of activities (some games, crafts, recess type sports)? Also, we need coverage for the entire work day, so 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. is ideal. Any suggestions appreciated. Thanks!

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