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Letter: David Brown Supports Faris

The annual town election is Tuesday.

To the Editor:

If you own a single family house in Westborough, I am sure that you have noticed the massive increases in your property taxes over the last four years. If you happen to live in my neighborhood (typical four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths) your taxes have gone up by at least 33% over the last four years. I am certain it is the same in similar neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, based upon the future construction and renovation projects described by the town manager in his Master Plan (Fire House, Town Hall, Forbes Building, Middle School, et al), our taxes are bound to increase at an even higher trajectory. Ugh!

Exploding property taxes threaten our schools and our property values. “Why not buy in Shrewsbury or Grafton, same house, same price, with 40% lower taxes?” Westborough property taxes shock and then frighten buyers and realtors away. In fact, if you must live in Westborough, why not rent an apartment, low rent, no taxes, and a school bus in the morning.

On March 5, we have an important election for two selectman seats. The three candidates include the two incumbents and a newcomer, Steve Faris, who wants to freeze property taxes. We have a clear choice here.

The two incumbents have a lot in common. Both were born and raised in Westborough. Having met them both and by all accounts, I believe that they are hardworking, bright, pleasant and very capable people. One is a state employee. The other was a state employee for many years and now works as a nurse for a school system. One lives in a condo near the rotary, the other lives on a farm where her family has lived for generations. They appear to get along very well, and even hold each others' campaign signs along with other local pols at the rotary. We all get it. Go along, get along.

Both claim to love Westborough and enjoy being selectmen. No doubt. But what they also enjoy, like many in government, is spending other people’s money, namely your money. Both sat idly by as your taxes exploded. They are out of touch. It is time for them to go. Unfortunately, we can only remove one of them at this time. Meanwhile, we need a new set of eyes, ears and fresh ideas in the selectmen’s office.

That is why now is the time to elect Steve Faris as selectman. Steve is a 40-year professional electrical engineer and a project manager in the high-tech industry. He has been trained to define problems, drill down to the facts, and get results, on time and on budget. He promises to focus like a laser beam on spending and taxes. His goal is a “0 %” increase (a freeze) in property taxes for FY 15 and 16 for starters. I promise you that this town has never had a selectman like Steve. He is all about your taxes and your money. He is reasonable, personable but tough - the right man for the job.

Look, if Tom Brady and even the Feds were willing to take a little haircut, then maybe Westborough can take one also.

Let’s find out. It’s time. Please vote for and elect Steve Faris for selectman.

David Brown

Westborough

Pete Allen March 02, 2013 at 05:11 PM
"Your taxes have gone up by at least 33% over the last four years"?! You're entitled to your opinions, David, but not to make up "facts." My calendar 2012 payments were 7.4% higher than my 2008 payments, and I expect that's near the town's average. We all can (and should) seriously discuss whether such increases should be trimmed, while recognizing that our total School expenses are about 77% of taxes. Based on their track records, both incumbents deserve to be Selectmen when Town Meeting will shortly discuss and vote our next budget on March 16.
Stephen Faris March 02, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Pete, You need to look at a 10 year period. Also, looking ahead the new spending will cause real problems. Steve Faris
Stephen Faris March 02, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Pete, My taxes have risen as follows: 2008 $8796 2012 $9870 That is 12.2%. Sounds like you did better. Steve
Stephen Faris March 02, 2013 at 11:29 PM
My research shows that taxes in Westborough have risen in a 10 year period FY 2003-2013 for the average single family home 65%. Westborough is 66% over the state average of $4954. This means we have 6.5% annual increase in property taxes. Inflation is 2.2%/year over this 10 year period. Since we have and will be in a deflationary era, this 4.3% is excessive given that the Average Annual House Hold Income is dropping at 2.6%/year. It is no wonder are citizens are complaining. What do you think? Steve
Dominic Capriole March 03, 2013 at 10:31 AM
The tax rate for FY 2008 was $14.70. The tax rate for FY 2012 was $19.21. The increase is 30.7%. You do not need to respond, I know the difference between tax rate and tax bill, between concept and consequence, between attacking each other and attacking the problem. Emery does not share your sensibilities or support your goal of tax moderation and does not deserve your support. While, admittedly rough around the edges, Faris is a better choice for you to achieve some form of political balance in the town of Westborough.
Mike March 03, 2013 at 01:43 PM
The subject of determining property values is a completely different animal. Last year values of almost every house on my street went down while mine and a neighbors increased. Spend a little time spot checking property values, you might be surprised.
Stephen Faris March 03, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Mike, What is your take on Westborough property taxes? Spot checking is not going to tell us how we compare to other towns. Everyone use the Average Single Family Home to benchmark. I dont like that benchmark but I dont have a better indicator. Steve
Mike March 04, 2013 at 01:02 AM
I believe we get good value for the taxes we pay. I'd like to make sure money is spent wisely. I think there should be term limits on the school committee and an external firm should be hired to audit their budget request.
Stephen Faris March 04, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Mike, You seem to indicate different beliefs. On the one hand you believe we get good value for the taxes we pay, but you don't trust the School Committee. Its the Selectmens job to insure we get good value for our taxes. In my view, the Selectmen have not protected the tax payer from excessive taxes and many in the Town agree. My hope is that many of the 11,000 voters weigh in and make their views known. Steve
Neil Herzig March 04, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Steve; I’m in your corner. Two points: (1) Although I believe that our town government has done an “acceptable” job over the past few years of maintaining the average tax increases at a “reasonable” level, from the historical data it seems the 5 year period between 2002 and 2006 things were out of control. As a result according to the MA DOR for fiscal 2012, out of over 350+ towns in MA, Westborough had the 32nd highest average single family tax bill and had the ninth highest tax rate in the state (e.g. top 3%). The firehouse and town hall projects could push us off the road again. (2) The property tax framework is unbalanced, unfair and promotes friction between town residents. As noted by the differences in taxes increases (33%, 30.7%, 12.2%, etc.) as highlighted in the earlier comments, this disparity fosters disagreement and unproductive tension between the town government and its residents.
Stephen Faris March 04, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Hi Neil, Thanks for your comments and support. Your numbers are right on. However, Median Family House Hold income has dropped about 8% for FY09-FY11 or 2.7%/per year. Real Estate Taxes are rising 3-6%/year in Westborough. This is eating into families disposable income and causing some real pain. Also, its slowing our economy to a snails pace. Steve
Neil Herzig March 04, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Agreed. Town budgets (and government budgets in general) rarely tie spending rates to what is actually happening in the economy. Solution - Discretionary spending should be indexed to relevent economic metrics. A simple example would be if household income drops 8% then discretionary spending should drop 8%.

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