The past few weeks all of the attention has been focused on the Bush tax cuts and their extension. Whilst all of this was going on the Southbridge Town Council raised property taxes and no one even noticed.
At Monday’s Town Council meeting our leaders voted to tax all property owners, residential, commercial, and industrial at the same tax rate. First I would say I disagree with a single tax rate. I understand the argument that is we want to attract business to town we need to have incentives. Since our Economic Development Office has done such a great job attracting business to town, and the moving vans are lining up at the boarder waiting to move in, I can see why this was done.
This year the average tax bill is $2,781 next year with the increase in taxes it will be $2,852 or a $71 increase. Now that might not be seen as a large increase but if you add the sewer and water bills on top of that, and they will be going up as well, we are putting the squeeze on the homeowner for the sake of business that might move into town. Business that generates income on their property that a residential homeowner will not make. And for you apartment dwellers, your rent will go up to cover that cost!
Southbridge has 12.8% unemployment and 15% of the Community live at or lower than the Federal Poverty Level. The people in this Town are faced some some pretty severe economic hardship and I am not sure how much more of a burden the residents of this town can carry. Yes it’s only $71 but that might just be the difference between staying in your home or staying in your apartment or living on the street.
Current stats show that Southbridge ranks 280 out of 351 Cities and Town in Massachusetts for property tax but the Town ranks 337th out of 351 for median household income. We cannot afford another $71. If we need to raise taxes this much then we need to see some offsetting cuts in the budget.
I call upon our Town Councilors to reconsider this vote and to think about what this will mean to the people of this town. We are being asked to pay for a new High/Middle school with a price tag of $89 million and rising sewer and water rates, on top of 12.8% unemployment how much more can we be squeezed?