Open discussion thread: Ask questions, share opinions

by beth on August 15, 2019

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It’s time for another open thread.

What’s on your mind this week, Southborough?

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.

(photo of Trottier campus fields by Beth Melo)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carl Guyer August 15, 2019 at 8:01 PM

Two Selectmen Walk In A Market

Two Selectmen on their way to a Tuesday night meeting stop at a local market to pick up a couple of items. The first is having a birthday party for a five-year-old grandson and needs four (4) pounds of bananas to make banana splits. The other needs four (4) pounds of hamburger to make a meatloaf.

After entering the store they swing by the produce section to pick up the bananas. Arriving at the banana counter they see bananas are $1.50 per pound. The first Selectmen, thinking this was an error, approaches market owner to inform him of the error.

The owner explains it is not an error because hamburger is on sale this week for $1.50 per pound. The Selectmen is baffled by this answer. The market owner proceeds to explain he has increased the price of bananas to cover the cost of the hamburger on sale.

The second Selectman proceeds to the meat counter to buy his hamburger. He likes this. He quickly recognizes a bargain when he sees it.

The first Selectman asks the market owner why he was doing this. The owner said he thought it was fair since the prices were the same and at the end of the week he would have the same net income. The owner says he is concerned if he sells hamburger at the prices charged at other markets customers will not purchase hamburger from his market.

Does the first Selectman buy the bananas? Stay tuned for more in the next episode!

So what is this silly story about?

It is a parody of the real estate tax rate policy in Southborough.

Just like bananas and hamburger are priced in a grocery store, residential and commercial property in Massachusetts is not taxed at the same rate. The average rate paid on residential property in Massachusetts last year was $12.98 while the average paid on commercial property was $22.45.

Still the Southborough Board of Selectmen believes a single tax rate for residential and commercial property is fair. This creates a condition for Southborough residents paying a tax rate higher than the rate on 80% of the residential property in the state while commercial property owners pay a rate lower the rate paid on 75% of the commercial property in the state. Implement a single tax rate in Massachusetts and immediately provide commercial property owners with a financial advantage.

Implementing a single tax rate has varying degrees of impact on communities due to their demographics. For many communities with a small commercial tax base there is only a small impact to residents. For Southborough with a relatively large commercial tax base and an above average residential home value, providing this discount to commercial property owners adds $1,000 to $2,000 to the average annual residential tax bill.

So you might say, residents eat expensive bananas and commercial property owners go home with the hamburger.

Reply

2 Southern Breeze August 16, 2019 at 11:22 AM

I’ve been waiting for one of these to come around. Thanks Beth.

Can anyone tell me what the items that have sprouted up at the Mary Finn school are? Some sort of posts with plaque holder or something. They are draped in plastic bags now so awaiting some ceremony? There are a whole bunch of them along the front of the school.

Reply

3 beth August 16, 2019 at 5:21 PM

I have the answer on that here: http://www.mysouthborough.com/2019/06/28/more-storywalks-to-enjoy-in-southborough-thanks-to-sef-and-a-southborough-scout/

They are the stands that will be used for a StoryWalk starting in the fall.

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4 arborist August 16, 2019 at 3:31 PM

some time ago you stated on this blog that seniors shouldn’t get a transfer station sticker for free, because you could afford one, now you are slamming the tax rate, I’m confused, join the club, you must be feeling the tax sting. And by the way my free sticker really helped out this year ,seeing that I am on a fixed income.

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5 Carl Guyer August 16, 2019 at 10:25 PM

Hello

Thanks for the message, I always wonder if anyone reads this stuff.

The goals are the same, lets not do things that increase the tax burden on residents without justifiable results. Free stickers to every senior and giving discounted tax rates to commercial property owners both add costs to residents. The first is unnecessary and the second makes residents pay a premium tax rate while providing a discount to commercial property owners.

If you are on a fixed low income that puts you into a disadvantaged economic condition, that should justify a free sticker, but that condition should assumed to be true just because you are a senior citizen. In some communities that assumption might be more valid, but not here.

I don’t understand how you see the two as being inconsistent. .

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6 John Kendall August 16, 2019 at 4:47 PM

Great analogy Carl. Now if we could just split the rate next year…..

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7 Marge S August 19, 2019 at 11:39 AM

Just a comment on free stickers for senior citizens. Remember that senior citizens still pay high taxes in Southborough and most of us don’t have children in the school system, which is paid for by our taxes. In other words, let’s say the town gives me a free sticker worth $200. I have zero children in the school system (actually, have never had children, period). Is it really unfair for me to have that sticker?

After age 65, unless you have your grandchildren living with you, the amount of trash your household produces diminishes. So, once again, does it really cost that much to give me a free sticker?

Many people still work after 65, but many also have to retire early because of medical problems brought about by age, or have to pay out-of-pocket costs for more medicines or over-the-counter aids not covered by insurance. I know one person who worked over 30 years of long hours at a desk job and had to leave her job because of neck and shoulder problems. She can’t collect disability or unemployment.

I don’t know how many free stickers are given out, but if it’s really a burden on the town, maybe there’s another way to approach it. Means test it. Give a reduced rate based on the number of people in the household. Raise the age of eligibility. Buy please remember that there are many elders who earned their wages back in the days before the high-tech boom and are getting very little through Social Security and pensions.

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8 Jason August 21, 2019 at 9:07 AM

Hello, does anyone know of any rooms or apartments for rent in Southborough? Used all the usual options to look but nothing available in the price range. Looking to spend $1400 or less per month. 1 bedroom or studio for 2 people.

Reply

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