Open discussion thread

Ask questions, share opinions

Above: I love the sight of branches frosted with snow. (2013 photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

A reader pointed out that I’m past due in providing an 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

(Reminder, you must be a registered user to post a comment.)

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.

Subscribe
Notify of
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Carl Guyer
7 days ago

So, the Department of Revenue 2023 real estate tax data for all communities in Massachusetts is not complete yet, but the preliminary data looks like about the same as before. As in 2022, residents of Southborough are again going to pay significantly high real estate tax rates while our commercial and industrial property owners have the benefit of tax rates well below the state average. Residents will pay millions of dollars in additional real estate taxes to maintain this condition.
Those responsible for this situation continue to believe that maintaining low tax rates for the current commercial and industrial property owners will entice the creation of more commercial property thereby adding to the towns tax base and lowering residential tax rates. They stand firmly on the notion that raising commercial and industrial property owner tax rates with a split tax rate will drive out the existing commercial tax base and raise taxes for residents.
Unfortunately, all of this is wrong, not based on fact and expensive for residents.
Lets start with the fact 80% of all the commercial and industrial property in Massachusetts is taxed with a split tax rate and those communities using a single tax rate as Southborough have only 20%.  It has to be a surprise to most that within single tax rate communities, which comprise 70% of the communities in the state, they only have 20% of commercial and industrial property. So much for single rates being a driving force for determining commercial development. It is not that simple.
For those who think commercial property drives down tax rates tax rates, consider this.  The average tax rate on commercial property within the combined single rate communities is higher than the average residential rate. That is right, when you lump all the single rate communities together, the commercial property owners pay more. This is because commercial property is more likely to be located in single tax rate communities with higher real estate tax rates. Why this is so is not evident, but it is a demographic oddity certain to drive advocates of lower tax rates through commercial development crazy. To see a first hand occurrence of this check out the single rate disaster that has unfolded on Westborough.  
Just to be clear and not miss the obvious, the average residential tax rate in split tax rate communities is lower than the average tax rate in single rate communities and not just by a small amount.
Lastly, in 2022, Southborough provided our commercial property owners with a tax rate lower than what is paid on 96% commercial property in the towns surrounding Southborough. This while residents paid a tax rate higher the rate paid on 88% of the residential property in the state. in 2023, the average commercial property tax paid on property surrounding Southborough was $22.24 while Southborough’s rate was $16.28. That is great for commercial property owners in Southborough, but maintaining that low rate is the cause of residents paying millions more in taxes.
So as you write the check for February’s real estate tax payment, keep this in mind. If you are a commercial property owner, be grateful, if you are a resident you might want to wince.
Once the data for 2023 is complete, a more detailed description of the present condition can be made.

  

David Parry
5 days ago
Reply to  Carl Guyer

The question you pose is this:

Should Southborough vote to change … from having a single tax rate for both residential and industrial property, to having a split rate ? Your propose that … there SHOULD be a change to a higher rate for industrial property, so that residential property would have a lower tax rate, with the result that homeowners would pay less in property taxes.

You have been a tireless advocate for change, which is laudable, but your letter to the editor (above), is a bit confusing.

Please elaborate on your following paragraph, quoted from your letter –which I have slightly edited by (adding) a few words for clarity:

QUOTE: ” For those who think (having more) commercial property (in a town) (helps to) drive down tax rates, consider this. The average tax rate on commercial property (within the combined single – rate communities) is higher than the average residential rate. (Yes, indeed), that is right — when you lump all the single-rate communities together, the commercial property owners pay more. This is because commercial property is more likely to be located in single-rate communities with higher real estate tax rates. Why this is so is NOT evident, but it is a demographic oddity , certain to drive advocates of … lower tax rates through (more) commercial development … crazy. To see a first hand occurrence of this, check out the single rate DISASTER that has unfolded on Westborough.” (END QUOTE).

Also, please explain the meaning of your last sentence, above, about the “DISASTER” in Westborough. What disaster? You are assuming that we residents know so much, about what is happening — regarding tax rates and development in our neighboring towns — when in fact most of us are too busy to pay attention to such matters. Please tell us more.

James Nichols-Worley
5 days ago

I got the chance to ask two people from the Worcester region earlier this week if “Southborough is a rural town.” The first argued its not: it’s between two of the largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The second argued that it is because of our open space policy and community character. I wonder what the Southborough-ites of 1727 would think of the town today.

  • © 2023 MySouthborough.com — All rights reserved.