Southborough’s tax rate plan: BOS vote this Tuesday, a split rate proposal, a single rate defense, and a history review of BOS’ positions (Updated)

On Tuesday evening, the Board of Selectmen will hear from the public before voting on this year’s property tax rates.

Resident Carl Guyer requested time on the agenda to make a presentation. He will be proposing to implement a split-rate. The plan would charge a higher rate to commercial properties than residential properties. His presentation headlines “saving the average homeowner $1,000 per year” and concludes:

Implementation will reduce the tax burden on residential property and help protect residential property assessments

(Click here for his presentation and here for his proposal.)

The Southborough Economic Development Team opposes the plan. The team is reaching out to local businesses to attend the Tuesday meeting in defense of the current system. In their letter submitted to Selectmen, the team states:

For a variety of reasons, we suggest that [a split-rate]  approach is misguided, shortsighted, and, in the long run, will undermine the character and financial well-being of Southborough.

(Click here to see the letter.)

As of Friday morning, the meeting had yet to be posted on the town website. But I have been told by the SEDT that the vote is scheduled for Tuesday, November 5th at 6:30 pm. (The Board of Assessor’s agenda confirms they will join a BOS meeting in the Town House’s Hearing Room at that time.)

The Advisory Committee is scheduled to discuss their position prior to the BOS vote. That meeting will take place Monday, November 4th, at 7:30 pm in Room B at Cordaville Hall, 9 Cordaville Road.

When I started writing this post, I thought that a BOS vote in favor of the split rate would be unprecedented. I was wrong.

Earlier this year, I posted a letter from Guyer pitching his proposal to the community. A passionate debate ensued in reader’s comments. You can read the letter and comments here.

In searching for that letter, I was surprised to come across stories Susan wrote in 2010 on this issue. I hadn’t recalled the brouhaha over a Selectman vote that fall. Do you?

In October 2010, Selectmen voted to 2-1 to split the property tax rate for commercial and residences in a similar manner. Selectmen chose to charge a $15.38 residential rate and $16.36 commercial rate. This was to avoid charging a $15.58 single rate. (The previous year’s single rate was $14.06.)

The decision came as a surprise to most of the town. After an outcry from local businesses, Selectmen agreed to review the decision. In the end they voted 2-1 to reverse the decision.

The swing vote that year was former Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf.

Current Selectmen Bill Boland and John Rooney voted consistently. Boland favored the single rate and Rooney voted for a split-rate.

Current Chairman, Dan Kolenda, did not serve on the board that year.

To read My Southborough’s past coverage of property tax rates click here.

Updated (11/1/13 5:15 pm): I mistakenly wrote that Dan Kolenda is a member of the Economic Development Team. He is actually a member of the town’s Economic Development Committee.  According to Chris Robbins, that is a separate entity.

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