Open discussion thread: Ask questions, share opinions

Enjoy your Independence Day. I’m taking a little time off for the holiday.

So, 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.

(photo from Flickr by abracapocus_pocuscadabra)

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5 years ago

Can anyone recommend a company to power wash a home?

Thank you.

Barb M
5 years ago

Crystal Clear did my house last year–excellent job–a little more than I wanted to spend but glad I did it.

Carl Guyer
5 years ago

It is a new fiscal quarter and real estate tax bills are appearing in mailboxes in Southborough. With residents thinking of paying these tax bills fresh in the their minds, it is a good time to look at some of the demographics behind our real estate tax policy.

Southborough has a basic real estate tax policy called a single rate tax. It simply means there is only tax rate for all the real estate property (residential and commercial) in the town. This same policy is used by two thirds (2/3) of the communities in Massachusetts. Although implementation is straightforward and easy to understand, the effect on communities varies greatly depending on demographics within a community.

To look at Southborough’s demographics we start with the residential tax rate ($16.38 in 2017). If our tax rate is compared to the residential tax rates across the state, you find that our residential taxpayers pay a higher tax rate than 79% of the property owners in the state. Couple this with the relatively high average property values in Southborough and the average annual tax bill paid by our residents places Southborough at number 26 out of 351 communities. As a relatively affluent community this not surprising, but being outstanding in this category is not something to be celebrated.

On the flip side, the commercial tax rate of $16.38 (same as the residential rate) ranks our commercial property owners paying a tax rate that is lower than the tax rate paid by 75% of the commercial property owners in the state. You can now understand why our commercial interests in town want to stay with a single tax rate.

In summary, our residents are paying at a rate higher than 79% state’s residential property owners while our commercial property owners are paying a tax rate lower than 75% of Massachusetts’ commercial property owners. On the surface a single tax rate can appear to be an equitable cost-sharing scheme, while demographics can produce a lopsided advantage as exists presently in Southborough.

There are tools available for the Board of Selectmen to remedy this situation.

For a more detailed look at this issue :

5 years ago
Reply to  Carl Guyer

Interesting info.
Would changing to a two tiered system impact residential tax bills in a material way?
Say, for example, that the commercial rate increased to the average state wide rate.
Would residential bills be reduced? Is there a calculation on how much savings we’d expect under that scenario.
We know how loudly local businesses would object to such a change. I’d not want to antagonize them for small relief….

Carl Guyer
5 years ago
Reply to  southsider

The answer to your question is that raising the Soubthborough’s commercial tax rate to the state average would bring down the average annual tax bill $1,500. As the linked article points out, Andover is a great example of a demographically similar community that provides a real life example. And Andover is more typical than an exception for communities like Southborough with a large commercial tax base.

Frank Crowell
5 years ago
Reply to  Carl Guyer

I wonder what the property tax bill would be if all educational non-profits simply paid for the services rendered. Yes, I am talking about Fay and St Marks. That is Southborough’s industry.

How many town’s our size have the same proportion of non-profits draining the tax coffers?

Carl Guyer
5 years ago
Reply to  Frank Crowell

I cannot specifically answer your question concerning the non-profits, but I can tell you that in if Southborough had adopted a split tax rate in the past, there could be reduction in the tax revenue collected from residents between 3.5 and 7 millions dollars per year if you compare us others with similar demographics. That translates to $1,000 to $2,000 per average household in the town. It seems fantastic, and how could it be, but it is true. I don’t know how much more you expect to collect from Fay or Saint Mark’s. Just to remind you, our demographic twin, Andover, has Phillips Academy located in their community which actually makes the comparison to Southborough even stronger.

In my earlier comment, I said making Southborough’s commercial tax rate at the state average would save the average residential tax payer $1,500. That is true but you also might be interested in knowing even if we did this our position of having the 26th largest annual tax bill would only move us down the list to just above the 50th position (out of 351). We would still have relatively high residential tax bills, and that would be expected with an affluent community such as ours. Having high residential property values comes with large tax bills, no getting around that.

5 years ago

Can anyone recommend a good solar company to get an estimate on solar installation in southborough?

5 years ago


I work for Vivint Solar and live here in town. I’d be happy to meet and give you any info you would like. You can get the information about the industry you want and the hard data on what your roof can produce without signing any contracts.

References from town residents are available.

Matthew Deyo

5 years ago

I am a local seamstress with too many sewing machines! Do you have a son or daughter or perhaps a grandchild who would like to learn to sew? I have an older, basic machine I would like to give you! I’ll even deliver and show you the set-up if needed.

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