Real Estate Taxes - FY05 to FY06 Assessment Comparison

Discussions about the the ridiculous tax evaluations alot of homes received during this recession. (Great timing). Also, any discussions about taxes at all.

Real Estate Taxes - FY05 to FY06 Assessment Comparison

Postby mike_flynn on Tue Feb 21, 2006 2:46 pm

Comparing the FY2005 Real Estate Assessments to the FY2006 Assessments now available online at:

FY2006 Assessments

I compiled the following list of some of the properties that had the largest decrease in assessment (not including any granted abatements) and ensuing tax bill. The total tax bill for the properties shown was $2,215,355 in FY2005. The tax levy was automatically increased +2.5% for FY2006, which brought the tax obligation for these ten properties up to $2,270,739. Unfortunately, their assessments were lowered drastically and their tax rate was decreased from 18.08/1000 to 17.74/1000. Instead of paying their fair share of $2,270,739, the total of the tax bills sent out by the Town was $1,802,035, representing a tax break of $468,704. This generous tax break, along with those for all of the other businesses as well as the automatic +2.5% increase in the total tax levy, was placed on the backs of the Residential and Open Space (RO) property owners.

Largest FY05 to FY06 Assessment/Tax Decreases

(Note: edited 03/02/06 to post link to table)
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Postby drvmusic on Tue Feb 21, 2006 4:46 pm

This may sound naive, but how did these companies get such a huge break while my tax bill is seemingly through the roof?
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Postby duffyhouse on Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:44 am

Wow, all that money that our Town desparately needs that could have been put to good use for our schools-grrr.!

Hey maybe these companies would donate the monies they "saved" to our schools and they could write it off as a tax break too!
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Postby mike_flynn on Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:32 pm

Just to clear up any misconceptions that some might have, even though four-fifths of the Board of Selectmen gave huge tax breaks to their business buddies, the town is not losing any total property tax revenue and the schools are not going to suffer. The FY2006 property tax levy is $45,635,854, which is +3.7% higher than the FY2005 value of $43,987,871. This +3.7% increase is comprised of the automatic maximum yearly increase of +2.5% in the base amount plus $0.6M in coveted New Growth. On a side note, this +3.7% increase in the property tax levy will probably not be enough to cover the +3.8% average town employee raise in FY2006, but that is a topic for another day.

You would think that the Town would look at its needs first and then decide how much to tax, but this is not the way Tewksbury works. They are allowed under Proposition 2-1/2 to increase the base amount of the property tax levy by a MAXIMUM of +2.5% per year, with smaller increases allowed. Tewksbury simply increases it by the maximum amount allowed every year, and then they decide how to spend it after the fact. After all that, if there is still not enough money to support their out-of-control spending, they will come back and ask for a debt exclusion. Wouldn’t it be great if you could go out and spend whatever you want, and then go ask your boss for a raise when your salary won’t keep up?
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Postby duffyhouse on Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:17 pm

Hi Mike-thanks for this info-I do understand how it all works, my point was a basic one to point out what you have just stated, when you say..."Tewksbury simply increases it by the maximum amount allowed every year, and then they decide how to spend it after the fact..."

It is in the "deciding how to spend our monies", AFTER THE FACT, that really burns me.
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Postby mike_flynn on Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:52 pm

Duffyhouse, I did not mean to offend you. Sorry!

I just wanted to make sure that readers who are concerned about the school budget did not get the wrong idea.
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Postby duffyhouse on Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:12 pm

mike-No offense taken-sorry if my post made you feel that I was offended.
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Postby krauseo on Thu Mar 02, 2006 1:02 am

Mike, I agree with you completely about how the tax burden has shifted to residents. From FY01 to FY05, almost $3.5 million of commercial/industrial new growth was added to Tewksbury’s levy. However, in FY05 the total CIP levy was only $1.3 million more than the CIP levy in FY00. Thus, in those 5 years $2.2 million of what CIP new growth added to the levy was transferred to the residential taxpayer because residential property values increased so much more than commercial values, and the Selectmen did not use the CIP shift as much as possible to protect residents. I think the table above is very telling and I applaud your research.

However, I disagree with you about what’s responsible for our fiscal woes. The town matter-of-factly increases its levy by the full 2-½% every year because town officials know the 2-½% won’t cover the fixed cost increases we face. Any budget items that are out-of-control are more correctly called out-of-our-control. Here are some FY06 numbers:

- Health Insurance – $8.7 million, after a $500K reduction gained by the town working with unions to change the health plan to a less expensive option
- Retirement - $3.8 million
- Debt Service and Interest - $5.4 million – all borrowing is approved by Town Meeting
- Shawsheen Tech - $3.8 million
- Out-of-District Special Education Tuition and Transportation - $3.2 million
- In-District Special Education Services are tougher for me to put a clear number on, because they involve a lot of “partialsâ€￾, i.e. someone who spends part of their time on SPED, but not all. I think $3.5 million is a decent estimate.

Out of a $69.4 million budget, that’s $28.4 million, or 41%. That doesn’t include other out-of-our-control costs like utilities, fuel, snow and ice removal, trash pick-up, etc, which add a few million more.

Health insurance, retirement, and mandated service costs are increasing at a rate that communities can’t manage, a rate far greater than 2-½% a year. This year, the Town Manager has estimated that our health insurance and retirement costs will increase $1.8 million; however, our entire allowed increase under Proposition 2-½ (levy plus expected new growth) is only $1.6 million. So, we’re $200,000 in the hole before we even start, and we’ve exhausted our primary revenue increase.

The state and federal governments keep creating mandated services, especially in education, but then bail on their funding responsibilities and dump it on the communities, which have the least flexibility. Until state and federal legislators start talking about what’s important, enacting real reforms, and focusing their spending on the proper places, we will continue to face budget problems like this every year.

However, something else has to happen. As Shakespeare wrote, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.â€￾ Even more than fixed costs and government mandates, the people’s expectations drive government spending. The people have to stop expecting so much from local government unless they are willing to start paying for their expectations. People want small class sizes, safe and clean school buildings, individualized attention for their children, and special education and vocational education services. They want someone at their door 3 minutes after they call 911. They want to be safe. They want criminals arrested and fires put out. They want their trash picked up. They want their streets plowed. They want potholes filled. They want a nice Senior Center where they can enjoy activities and companionship. They want well-maintained recreational facilities. They want a nice library that’s open 7 days a week. They want to eat food prepared in clean, well-inspected establishments. Good things, all.

However, different people want different things, and they don’t always care about what others want. So, one group might say, “Give me more firefighters, and pare down the Library to do so.â€￾ Another group might say, “Give me more teachers, and pare down the Senior Center to do so.â€￾ Another might say, “Give me more help in the Senior Center, and pare down the Teen Center to do so.â€￾ For every group like those, there will be another group saying how nuts it would be to pare down any of those things. In the end, town officials tend to keep everything open and give every group something they want.

Of course, every group agrees on one thing. They want all these things they get from the town to be free, because they think whatever they pay in local taxes (property and excise) should cover all those services. But, for most people it doesn’t, and for many it doesn’t come close.

Most people also tend to agree that public employees are paid too much and get too many perks. For the most part, I don’t agree. Don’t get me wrong; given the realities of a Proposition 2-½ world, public employees often have unrealistic expectations of the salary and benefits they should receive. Without the addition of a major revenue source beyond the levy increase allowed by Proposition 2-½, a local government can’t realistically offer employees more than a 1 or 2% salary increase in any year, in good times or bad. Offering more than that means you are paying out more than you’re taking in, and you end up having to cut from somewhere else to make it up. One of the hardest things I have to do as a School Committee member is to tell effective educators that there is no money available to reward them, or that any money that was available was gobbled up by increased health care costs. But, that’s today’s reality, so I do it.

Another reality is this: people don’t understand the differences between the public and private sector. We often hear and read, “Institute a salary freeze, that’s what my company did!â€￾ Fine, in a non-unionized high-tech company where everyone is an at-will employee, it’s easy to institute a salary freeze or pay cuts. You just tell everyone, “Starting today you make 10% less—live with it, or leave.â€￾ Bingo, you just cut your salary expenses by 10%. However, you can’t do that in the public sector, because almost all your employees are individuals with employment contracts or part of a union with a contract. I think we have seven different unions just for school department employees, and about a dozen people with individual contracts. If management wants to freeze or cut their pay, change their benefit contributions, their work hours, or anything else about their job, the employees have to agree to it. If you work at that high-tech company, and you feel pretty secure about your job, and you had to agree to a salary freeze or 10% pay cut before it could be instituted, would you agree to it, even if it meant Sally Seymour two cubicles down might keep her job? Or, would you prefer to get your regular 3% increase and let Sally find something else? We can ask public sector employees to forego their contracted increases, but I don’t think we’ll hold out much hope of many agreeing to it.

We also hear, “Live within your budget!â€￾ I absolutely agree. However, the public sector runs under different rules. Much of what the public sector does is required by law. You can’t just stop doing it, even if you don’t have the money. You have to find the money, either by cutting some of the things you can cut (which aggravates the people affected by the cut) or getting more money from your taxpayers (which aggravates everyone). I don’t mean to sound condescending, and I apologize in advance if anyone reads this that way, but I’m not sure anyone can really understand all the rules and constraints the public sector operates under unless you become immersed in them, either by working in the public sector or being an elected/appointed official. I know now that I didn’t understand them until I was on the School Committee, and I’ve still got a ways to go. Public sector budgeting is hard, and very frustrating, and it often seems to be a battle that can’t be won.

A final reality is this. I have been going to Town Meetings religiously for a long time, and during any debate on the budget I cannot recall seeing anyone rise and say, “We spend too much on Department XYZ, cut that department’s budget.â€￾ It’s easy to say it on TewksburyIssues, or in a letter to the editor, or in the Sun’s Backtalk column, but no one ever says it when it matters, at Town Meeting when the town is actually deciding its budget.

The voters decide how much money each department gets; town officials just decide how to spend what the voters give them. If one thinks the town spends too much, one can try to stop that by introducing an amendment to the budget article that cuts whatever budgets one wants to cut, use one’s five minutes to make one’s argument, and get enough people that feel the same way to show up at Town Meeting and vote that way. Is that a difficult proposition? Certainly. But until someone tries to do it I am going to think that the people want to preserve our current service levels, and I will recommend spending the money needed to do that as best we can.

The simple facts are these. The people pay for government. The cost of local government is skyrocketing, especially in the areas of health care, retirement, underfunded but mandated services, utilities, and fuel. Our revenues are limited by Proposition 2 ½ and by the state and federal governments aid whims, but our expenses are not, and expenses are rising at a much faster rate than revenues. I think some combination of the following has to occur, and quickly.

- People must change their expectations of government or be willing to pay more taxes to cover government’s fixed costs
- Communities need to receive a large increase in state/federal aid to help cover fixed costs
- Communities need legislative relief from the unfunded mandates
- Communities need legislative or regulatory bodies to change the health care/retirement system for public employees

If progress is not made in these areas, I believe there will have to be huge cuts in local services over the coming years, possibly starting this year. Consolidating school and town departments will barely make a dent in the problem, at least on the school side, because the school-side groups are already running at a bare bones level, whether people choose to believe it or not. For the most part, I don’t support increased fees or new fees for services, because I think it makes more sense to pay more property taxes (which are tax-deductible) than fees (which aren’t), and I don’t think government should be “a la carte.â€￾ I don’t think kids should have to pay to ride a bus to school, I don’t think the elderly should have to pay to use the Senior Center, and I don’t think anyone should have to pay to take a book out of the Library or call 911. Fees also bring more speculation into the budget process, because you have to budget based on how much you expect to collect, and that can lead to problems if you don’t meet those collection expectations.

People often say, “Just make the cuts,â€￾ and if necessary, I will. However, the cuts won’t come out of the 41% of the budget I listed at the beginning of this post, because those things can’t be cut. The cuts will come out of programs and personnel and will impact our ability to provide that list of things that people want from their local government.

I’m not trying to scare anyone, which is why I haven’t talked about any specific programs or positions I think might be in danger. I’m not asking people to support new taxes or to storm Town Meeting. I’m not whining about the problem, and I’m ready to do whatever the townspeople decide I should do, be it adding to the school department, keeping what we’ve got, or cutting a lot out. Right now, I’m just telling you what I think is the truth, because that’s my job—I represent everyone, and I’m not worried about whether or not I get reelected. On the side of the budget I help manage, the only part on which I can speak intelligently, I am hard-pressed to find the fat people keep talking about. The fat has been burned away over the last four years of cutbacks. I’ve been looking at the school budget for two months, and I see nothing left to cut but positions and programs that help provide Tewksbury’s children with an education and/or self-development. If the present situation continues, and the town decides to level fund the school budget, the School Committee will have to look at every position and program, do a lot of prioritization, and make some difficult choices to find that $1.9 million. People with children in the school system won’t be happy about the choices. However, like last year, the School Committee will work to ensure that the schools don’t bear the burden alone.

If you got this far, bravo. This little manifesto has been some days in the making, so I applaud your tenacity in getting through it all. I hope it makes some sense. [img]images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]
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Postby rnmom9496 on Thu Mar 02, 2006 1:44 am

Keith, thanks for explaining some of the confusing nuances.Though it doesn't remove the sting, you efforts are greatly appreciated.
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Postby sean_czarniecki on Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:28 am

Beautiful write-up Keith. You should pass it on to the local newspapers. It will help a lot of people understand the situation better.

As you noted, health care and pensions are a significant problem that can't be fixed unless union contracts are changed (or legislation changes how things are handled). That's the frustrating part of comparing public sector to private sector. If a non-unionized private-sector company is going down the tubes financially, they can cut benefits before cutting people. This is never pleasant, but keeps people providing the same service at a lower cost. In the public sector, as you noted, no one is going to vote to reduce their own health-care services or their pensions, so people get cut instead. Frustrating.

Even more frustrating to me is hearing that we need more state or federal funding. The money I earn is being taken by the state/feds to distribute to others...and I have to ask for it back to cover things in my town. How much of it gets used at the state/federal level just to cover their salaries/pensions/overhead costs? I don't know, but it just adds to the frustration. I wouldn't mind having higher local taxes to improve our town if I thought that all these levels (federal/state/local) were managing these "out-of-our-control" costs in a reasonable fashion. Many of these costs are in someone's (whether it is federal/state/local politicians) control at some point or another and, as you also noted, they try to keep all parties happy. I understand it is difficult and also know that in supporting my family, I don't have the kind of time necessary to attempt to change things. I instead try to find a "happy place" so that the frustration doesn't kill me and I just try to do some of the little things that can help the situation (like recycling).

Ahhh, that minor discussion was refreshing. Thanks again, Keith!
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Postby duffyhouse on Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:32 am

Thank you too, Keith. I have learned a little more in what you have posted, and have understood most of what you have laid out for a long time. But the hard part is spelling it out for others-which you have done very succinctly-is very difficult. IMO, (if you haven't done so already), your post here should be an editorial in all of our local papers for all to read. Because bottom line is in what you have stated when you say ..."I’ve been looking at the school budget for two months, and I see nothing left to cut but positions and programs that help provide Tewksbury’s children with an education and/or self-development. If the present situation continues, and the town decides to level fund the school budget, the School Committee will have to look at every position and program, do a lot of prioritization, and make some difficult choices to find that $1.9 million. People with children in the school system won’t be happy about the choices. ..", is the ONLY way I see that our school system will be able to operate with the budget you have been given. I have been saying for years, that not all people will not be happy, but that we will have to "go back" to the basics (reading, writing,math and physical education)-prioritize as you say-to get the class sizes under control without being able to spend more money on teachers- because there is no more money in the till now, nor in the near future. For me personally it is a very scary situation that are school system is facing, and I am not sure that the majority of our residents realize the serious of this issue. Hopefully your post (and hopefully your editorial) will enlighten others. Thank you for your tireless time and effort as our School Committee rep.
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Postby Harry on Thu Mar 02, 2006 8:17 am

Keith Rauso Writes:

â€￾Health insurance, retirement, and mandated service costs are increasing at a rate that communities can’t manage, a rate far greater than 2-½% a year. This year, the Town Manager has estimated that our health insurance and retirement costs will increase $1.8 million; however, our entire allowed increase under Proposition 2-½ (levy plus expected new growth) is only $1.6 million. So, we’re $200,000 in the hole before we even start, and we’ve exhausted our primary revenue increase.â€￾

Harry Writes:
Even with Proposition 2 ½ Massachusetts is still one of the highest taxed states. How much more do you want? Thank god for Proposition 2-1/2. We have been over and over and over this heath insurance and pension debate to no end. Keith, find me anybody who retires in the private sector at age 55 with 80% of their pre-retirement, I believe tax free in Massachusetts, income and paid heath insurance. Find me one person in the private sector that gets this. Even at age 65 nobody in the private sector gets 80% of their pre-retirement income from social security. It’s 20-30%. These 2 plans will most assuredly bankrupt all cities and towns across this state.

Keith Rauso Writes:

â€￾The state and federal governments keep creating mandated services, especially in education, but then bail on their funding responsibilities and dump it on the communities, which have the least flexibility. Until state and federal legislators start talking about what’s important, enacting real reforms, and focusing their spending on the proper places, we will continue to face budget problems like this every year.â€￾

Harry Writes:
Good luck with this one Keith, your living in a one party state and absolute power corrupts absolutely. You like Massport, MWRA, Big Dig, Mass Turnpike Authority, UMASS paying Billy Bulger 300,000 a year pension, Tewksbury Hospital; I could go on and on and on. This list is lengthy to say the least. Never mind the builders/politicians scam called 40B. This little gem is one of the biggest unfunded mandated corrupt scams of all time! Why cities and towns don’t tell the State to go to hell over this is due to money and political influence.

Keith Rauso Writes:

â€￾However, something else has to happen. As Shakespeare wrote, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.â€￾ Even more than fixed costs and government mandates, the people’s expectations drive government spending. The people have to stop expecting so much from local government unless they are willing to start paying for their expectations. People want small class sizes, safe and clean school buildings, individualized attention for their children, and special education and vocational education services. They want someone at their door 3 minutes after they call 911. They want to be safe. They want criminals arrested and fires put out. They want their trash picked up. They want their streets plowed. They want potholes filled. They want a nice Senior Center where they can enjoy activities and companionship. They want well-maintained recreational facilities. They want a nice library that’s open 7 days a week. They want to eat food prepared in clean, well-inspected establishments. Good things, all.â€￾

Harry Writes:

Sorry Keith, you and I part company here. I respect what you have tried to do in Tewksbury but you have fallen into the politicians can’t manage but simply blame taxpayers game. You know why I have expectations from my government? I pay taxes for services. When my taxes are used to fund my school system way below the state average but somehow manages to attempt to fund pensions far beyond what taxpayers themselves obtain I say now that’s and interesting priority. Heath care at 55? Why? Heath care after retirement, why? Isn’t Medicare good enough? The government make us live with it. But yet our government sets up their own exclusive pensions, heath care programs, 15 or more sick days, every single holiday known to mankind, and drops it square on our backs. Then we get to sit back and listen to politicians pontificate that it’s actually the taxpayers that want too much, should simply shut up and pay more and more into a bloated bureaucracy. Or listen to threats like if people don’t pay more drugs will run rampart in town. Sorry, political extortion BULLCRAP!

Keith Rauso Writes:

â€￾Of course, every group agrees on one thing. They want all these things they get from the town to be free, because they think whatever they pay in local taxes (property and excise) should cover all those services. But, for most people it doesn’t, and for many it doesn’t come close. “

Harry Writes:

I pay close to 4000.00 in property taxes to Tewksbury, excise taxes, water taxes and the like. My wife and I pay over 8000.00 in taxes to the state of which a portion is funneled back to Tewksbury. Last time I checked 12,000 isn’t “freeâ€￾ money for “freeâ€￾ services.

Keith Rauso Writes:

“Most people also tend to agree that public employees are paid too much and get too many perks. For the most part, I don’t agree. Don’t get me wrong; given the realities of a Proposition 2-½ world, public employees often have unrealistic expectations of the salary and benefits they should receive. Without the addition of a major revenue source beyond the levy increase allowed by Proposition 2-½, a local government can’t realistically offer employees more than a 1 or 2% salary increase in any year, in good times or bad. Offering more than that means you are paying out more than you’re taking in, and you end up having to cut from somewhere else to make it up. One of the hardest things I have to do as a School Committee member is to tell effective educators that there is no money available to reward them, or that any money that was available was gobbled up by increased health care costs. But, that’s today’s reality, so I do it.

Another reality is this: people don’t understand the differences between the public and private sector. We often hear and read, “Institute a salary freeze, that’s what my company did!â€￾ Fine, in a non-unionized high-tech company where everyone is an at-will employee, it’s easy to institute a salary freeze or pay cuts. You just tell everyone, “Starting today you make 10% less—live with it, or leave.â€￾ Bingo, you just cut your salary expenses by 10%. However, you can’t do that in the public sector, because almost all your employees are individuals with employment contracts or part of a union with a contract. I think we have seven different unions just for school department employees, and about a dozen people with individual contracts. If management wants to freeze or cut their pay, change their benefit contributions, their work hours, or anything else about their job, the employees have to agree to it. If you work at that high-tech company, and you feel pretty secure about your job, and you had to agree to a salary freeze or 10% pay cut before it could be instituted, would you agree to it, even if it meant Sally Seymour two cubicles down might keep her job? Or, would you prefer to get your regular 3% increase and let Sally find something else? We can ask public sector employees to forego their contracted increases, but I don’t think we’ll hold out much hope of many agreeing to it.â€￾

Harry Writes:

Read my comments above again regarding public workers pay and benefits. Keith, you make it sound like they have far less than private workers when it’s just the opposite, they have far greater pay, benefits, and retirement programs than the taxpayers. Let me ask you a fundamental question. Should public workers have private pensions and heath care benefits far greater than the taxpayer who struggles to live in retirement while being forced to pay for these programs for public workers? Does that sound fundamentally or ethically just to you?


Keith Rauso Writes:

“We also hear, “Live within your budget!â€￾ I absolutely agree. However, the public sector runs under different rules. Much of what the public sector does is required by law. You can’t just stop doing it, even if you don’t have the money. You have to find the money, either by cutting some of the things you can cut (which aggravates the people affected by the cut) or getting more money from your taxpayers (which aggravates everyone). I don’t mean to sound condescending, and I apologize in advance if anyone reads this that way, but I’m not sure anyone can really understand all the rules and constraints the public sector operates under unless you become immersed in them, either by working in the public sector or being an elected/appointed official. I know now that I didn’t understand them until I was on the School Committee, and I’ve still got a ways to go. Public sector budgeting is hard, and very frustrating, and it often seems to be a battle that can’t be won. “

Harry Writes:

Your right about one thing here Keith, this is certainly condescending to say the least. Even though we pay the taxes it’s just a system we can’t understand so we should just shut up and go away? Gee maybe the “rulesâ€￾ in the public sector are set up to pull the wool over the poor stupid ignorant taxpayer. It’s these freaking “rulesâ€￾ along with special interests, lobbyists, and political influence that has led us down the road of having a bloated, expensive, government that can’t get out of it’s own way. We have schools that under perform, taxes going through the roof, 14 billion dollar tunnels that leak, professors at UMass making millions, public workers with nice heath care and pension plans but none for the common person, Katrina victims still sitting in ruins 6 months after the hurricane because this “governmentâ€￾ has so many “rulesâ€￾ that it simply can’t function but only to serve itself.

Keith Rauso Writes:

â€￾The simple facts are these. The people pay for government. The cost of local government is skyrocketing, especially in the areas of health care, retirement, under funded but mandated services, utilities, and fuel. Our revenues are limited by Proposition 2 ½ and by the state and federal governments aid whims, but our expenses are not, and expenses are rising at a much faster rate than revenues. I think some combination of the following has to occur, and quickly.

- People must change their expectations of government or be willing to pay more taxes to cover government’s fixed costs
- Communities need to receive a large increase in state/federal aid to help cover fixed costs
- Communities need legislative relief from the unfunded mandates
- Communities need legislative or regulatory bodies to change the health care/retirement system for public employees

If progress is not made in these areas, I believe there will have to be huge cuts in local services over the coming years, possibly starting this year. Consolidating school and town departments will barely make a dent in the problem, at least on the school side, because the school-side groups are already running at a bare bones level, whether people choose to believe it or not. For the most part, I don’t support increased fees or new fees for services, because I think it makes more sense to pay more property taxes (which are tax-deductible) than fees (which aren’t), and I don’t think government should be “a la carte.â€￾ I don’t think kids should have to pay to ride a bus to school, I don’t think the elderly should have to pay to use the Senior Center, and I don’t think anyone should have to pay to take a book out of the Library or call 911. Fees also bring more speculation into the budget process, because you have to budget based on how much you expect to collect, and that can lead to problems if you don’t meet those collection expectations. “

Harry Writes:

Sorry Keith but the simple facts are actually this. Massachusetts taxpayers are among the highest taxed citizens in this country. I could fill up every single space available on Tewksbury Issues documenting how the “governmentâ€￾ and it’s “rulesâ€￾ waste and abuse taxpayer dollars. Until we have leaders who can be leaders and not politicians nothing will change. I believe that we have become a “knee-jerkâ€￾ society where nobody gets involved in anything until it becomes a huge problem for them personally. And that is where I believe we are heading. I think that there will eventually be change in Tewksbury but not until things get so bad it forces people to sit up and finally begin to pay attention. Most people don’t pay attention and those that try to are told that the “rulesâ€￾ are to complicated and by the way “please go awayâ€￾ When I see our “leadersâ€￾ finally address the absolutely staggering and spiraling costs of pensions and heath care I will begin to believe that the day of reckoning has finally arrived. Until then we will be faced with same old way of doing business. Your right about priorities, and right now it’s about not addressing the huge pension/heath care issue and simply telling the taxpayers it’s our fault. And by politicians telling us that they are coming after us.
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Real Estate Taxes - FY05 to FY06 Assessment Comparison

Postby nickel on Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:33 am

I've been bothered by the tax issue for some time. I have one child in school and another starting soon, so the cuts I envision for the schools have a very personal impact. The task that the the School Committee (and all other departments) have before them is daunting. As much as I'd like to serve on one othe these committess, the reality of having to cut something that may hinder my childs growth is something I would not, personally, be able to do. I applaud ALL departments for the work that they are doing on this difficult issue. I realize cuts everywhere are inevitable, but do we need an us vs. them attitude between departments? If one department is to be level funded, I think all should - out of fairness. I realize this is wishful thinking, but...

However, I disagree with Harry's comment that Massachusetts is one of the highest taxed states. I have lived in other states where the Real Estate taxes are much higher, and then there are assessments for many things that are "hidden" from the overall tax rate. (New raods, school development, water/sewer installation for growing communitees, to name a few.) These are hidden if you only look at the tax rates. Here in Massachusetts, there are fewer of these assements that I see added on a yearly basis due to the Prop 2 1/2 limitations. Take the sewer work here in town, yes there is an assessment to those who can now hook up, in other states, EVERYONE would have this added assessment, not just those who benefit from the new infrastructure. You can also look at New York as an example. There you have state (income taxes), local (real estate), (as well as village in some cases - that are an assessment for services on top of real estate tax,) and then you have a school tax that is not hidden within the overall real estate tax. I have friends who live in a town, but are also in a Village within that town, and they pay more than $5500 for real estate/village tax, and then there is the school tax of another $3300 on top of that, and this is on a property valued at $260,000. School tax is assessed to every residential property regardless if you have children in the school system or not.When you look at those numbers, our tax assessment doesn't look as bad.

Could you imagine if Massachusetts changed the laws and allowed the towns/districts to add a school tax.
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Real Estate Taxes - FY05 to FY06 Assessment Comparison

Postby tigerchief on Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:36 am

Harry's nailed it imo....

The State's pension and healtcare systems are the causes of todays problems....

Off the top of my head....over the last year, 4 able body men in town (John Mackey, Tom Ryan, Bob Fowler, and Bill Burris) were all able to retire at an early age at a significant cost to the town in pensions and healthcare expenses....and then we had to promote and increase the pay of others to fill their responsibilities.....a double wammy!!!

I'm not blaming the individuals involved, but rather the system that allows it!!!!.....and those elected politicians that do nothing but allow this practice to continue!!!!

I went to school in the late 50's/60's.....we didn't have class sizes in the 30+ range, there was no talk of fees for riding the bus, there was no talk of fees for sports or after school programs and there was NO STATE LOTTERY REVENUE!!!!!

Something went amiss somewhere, and I blame GREED !!!!!!!!!!!
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Real Estate Taxes - FY05 to FY06 Assessment Comparison

Postby Harry on Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:39 am

Keep in mind that it's not just real estate taxes. It's the overall tax burdon. That being real estate, personal property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc. NH has higher property taxes but no income or sales taxes. The bottom line is that when all types of taxes and fees are added up Massachusetts does rank above average in OVERALL tax/fee burdon.
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