Selectmen create new economic development committee

Earlier this week we talked about the grim financial future facing the town. According to a recent analysis, if we stay on our current track, residents will be looking at a 4% tax increase this year and a possible Proposition 2-1/2 override next year. That’s precisely why the Board of Selectmen last week agreed things have to change.

“It’s time to take a look at how we do business and how we conduct business in this town,” Chairman John Rooney said.

To that end, Rooney proposed the creation of a new ad hoc committee to focus on economic development. The committee will be asked to brainstorm goals and strategies and to create a roadmap for taking advantage of economic development opportunities, Rooney said.

The new committee would be an officially-recognized town committee, subject to the state’s open meeting law and other guidelines, and would be separate from the privately-run Southborough Economic Development Team which founded last year, a group Rooney praised for its efforts to promote Southborough’s business community.

“There is no time to wait,” Selectman Dan Kolenda said of the effort to tackle the town’s financial challenges. “The economic climate is not getting any better…I have zero interest in being part of implementing higher taxes for residents.”

The board voted unanimously to create the ad hoc committee which will be comprised of the Chairman of the Board of Selectman, the town planner, business and nonprofit leaders, and residents.

One Jacobs Lane resident who attended the board meeting last week urged selectmen to maintain a broad perspective on improving the town’s financial situation by not assuming the answer lies with more development.

“You’re proposing a one-sided viewpoint that we must develop to get ahead,” the resident said, going on to say the committee should include a wider range of perspectives.

The board will select members for the committee at an upcoming meeting. If you’re interested, here’s the town’s announcement along with instructions on how to apply.

The Board of Selectmen have created a new ad hoc committee that will focus on fostering economic development, collaborating with business owners and residents in the community, seeking ways to increase the tax base and lessen the burden on taxpayers and developing solutions to streamline the permitting and licensing process.

If interested, please submit a cover letter and resume by Wednesday, February 6, 2013 to Vanessa Hale, vhale@southboroughma.com, or mail to Town House, 17 Common St, Southborough, MA 01772.

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Neil Rossen
9 years ago

Isn’t it largely about the schools? This exercise seems futile if all it does is to allow continued excessive spending on our school system and provide more money for teachers. Maybe it’s better to let taxes rise and rise until something gives. I have doubts as to whether it is worthwhile to attend Town Meeting at all. The vote will be overwhelmingly to give Gobron whatever he asks for. Maybe we need a strategy to motivate voters to replace the School Committee.
Please correct me if I’m mistaken about the source of our “grim financial future”.

Carrie
9 years ago
Reply to  Neil Rossen

Neil,
really, if you honestly think that it is “overwhelmingly to give Gobron (he does have a first name and if you are going to use just his last please put a Dr. in front of it) whatever he asks for” then you are not paying attention. Dr. Gobron works tirelessly and the reason he is so beloved and respected is that he always puts the needs of the children first, always. The town needs to be infused with new businesses that make people want to do more than drive through en route to Westborough and Northborough–less office spaces and more eateries and places people want to slow down and spend some time exploring— what is not going to happen at Town Meeting (again) is this continuous “slash and burn” approach that happens every year towards the schools as if they are the golden ticket in a Wonka chocolate bar

Carl Guyer
9 years ago

Although I personally respect and appreciate the hard work the selectmen of Southborough, I am puzzled by this approach they have selected to counter the difficulties of funding our local government. I became aware of this possible approach a few weeks ago and decided to look at data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue for all the municipalities in the state. The data is clear, abundant and without exception, Southborough cannot expect to maintain its present residential home values if the percentage of the commercial and industrial increases. The “without exception” is an expression of the brutal behavior of the real estate market when municipalities acquire a high percentage of commercial and industrial property.

If you are interested is reading a detailed analysis of the mission of the new Development Committee and Southborough’s position relative to the other municipalities in Massachusetts, use the link provided below:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5bwgQxnXEokdmlIM05Ec3NXZ1U/edit?usp=sharing

southsider
9 years ago

Mr. Guyer,
Not sure that I understand the statistics in the same way. You mention that 19.4% of Southboro’s overall value is Commercial and Industrial Property and that that makes us an outlier among MA towns with homes averaging more than $500k. I didn’t double check your information but I do believe that Southboro would never be considered a heavily industrialized and commercial town by almost anyone’s standards or any means of measurement. I’m less certain than you are that some increase in the Commercial and Industrial Property base of the town would damage home values. I think we’d need to be vigilant about what got done and where it was done but I think we have room to grow our CIP. I’m also very open to the dual tax rates that you suggest work so well in Andover and Bedford. Maybe a hybrid solution could work here?

Carl Guyer
9 years ago
Reply to  southsider

If you send me a message via email I can provide more detail. We may not be a “heavy” industry town, but for a residential town in the upscale market, we need to be wary of the notion we can capture the benefits of lower priced communities with large commercial and industrial development and not become like them. Who we emulate is who we will become.

resident
9 years ago

One thing we all seem to be forgetting is the amount of land/property that St. Marks and Fay have gobbled up, thus reducing our taxable properties. The amount of money they “donate” to the town doesn’t even begin to compare with what they have taken away. Any time a property goes on the market that abuts soemthing they already own, they buy it. Each time, the town loses the taxes on that property. If we could limit the amount of property we will allow them to buy, we would be much better off. Unfortunately, we can’t and they are costing us, the taxpayers a fortune.

Tom Marcoulier
9 years ago
Reply to  resident

And don’t forget about all the children our schools educates that live in these tax free homes. Someone could call it ‘school choice’.

southsider
9 years ago

A different perspective on St Mark’s… something paraphrased from some info shared with Town Meeting by Mr Butler some years ago: Consider what it would be like if there were no St Mark’s or St. mark’s golf course. All of that very build-able land would be covered in 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath contemporary or colonial homes… all of which would have 2 or 3 kids per home. We’d collect $12k in property taxes per home and then spend $12-$15k ( or more ) per kid educating their children. As the owners age and finally move away because their kids are done with school and the property taxes are no longer ‘worth it’ , another younger family with kids move in and it begins again. The point: St. Mark’s is an attractive component of the middle of town and the draw it has on town resources pales to what the draw would likely be if they were not there.

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