Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Reset The Tax Levy Limit

Ken O'Brien

Since 2005 the median value of homes in Southbridge has dropped by over 30%.

Since 2005 the property tax rate in Southbridge has increased by over 77%.

Out of 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts we rank 15th in terms of unemployment.

The Town Council took a baby step and said no to any tax increase this year.

It’s not enough.

In two or three years the revenues from the landfill are going to end.

The past history of our town government is to whistle past the graveyard, continue as it always has and stick residents with the bill.

Will they cut services? No!

Will they cut personnel? No!

Will they raise taxes? You bet your sweet ass they will!

It has to stop.

It is time for the voters and tax paying citizens of Southbridge to force a change.

Rather than wait for the Council to adopt tax increases that will perpetuate the status quo, it is time to force them to cut expenses.

It is time to reset the basis for taxation in accordance with the reset in property values.

It is time to put a proposition 2 ½  underride on the 2016 town ballot.

Such an underride question would read as follows:
“Shall the Town of Southbridge be required to reduce the amount of real estate and personal property taxes to be assessed for the fiscal year beginning July first, two thousand and sixteen by an amount equal to $2,500,000?”

If adopted, the underride would reset the tax levy limit of the town permanently. The Council would be compelled to adopt a budget that would reflect the cuts necessary to accommodate the loss of Casella funds without any increase in real estate and personal property taxes.

Let me know if you agree with me that the time has come to act.

If you do, then we will begin the process of putting this on next year’s ballot.


  1. This is a good idea and I would support it. We shouldn't be spending money we don't have. I don't follow town politics as closely as I used to but I remember a provision in our contract with Casella (at least that's where I think it is) that states it requires a 2/3 vote of the council to access any more than 1/2 of the royalty payments. That provision was/is routinely ignored since Chris Clarke got a legal opinion that stated since the royalties are part of the regular budget a super majority of the council is not required to access the money. I think this opinion should be revisited to see if we can save any of the remaining revenue that comes to us from Casella for the rainy day that's headed our way.

  2. I agree with you.. However, I am concerned that the council will extend Casella's contract at the midnight hour.. They have just purchased the McKinstry property and will want to extend "the dump"..That should be stopped.. They should move on to some other town..

  3. Who just purchased the McKinstry property? At one time the town was negotiating with the McKinstry estate to try and buy the land around the landfill and the airport and turn the land into a park. Too bad if that effort fell apart.

    1. There are two parcels belonging to the McKinstry Land Trust. The land that was being looked at to create a park is still available and is not included in the SRDP plan. The parcel that the town just passed on a first right of refusal on is an entirely different plot of land.

      I know myself and several others reached out to local and regional conservation land trusts and there was no interest in taking on this piece of property for the price asked for. So SRDP is the only entity remaining that is still interested in that plot.

    2. Actually a wealthy friend of Southbridge offered the town a $900K four year zero percent interest loan for that property, but the offer was withdrawn when there was a proposal brought forward to treat the toxic leachate at the landfill site.

  4. The town had first right of refusal to buy the property and passed. Without any available free cash (taxes?) the town is not able to buy it even if they wanted to. Casella hasn't purchased it yet but may soon. It is ear-marked for landfill if all the ducks line up (MEPA, BOH, host agreement). The town can't have it both ways.

    1. What does "the town can't have it both ways" mean?

    2. Why is someone on the BOH talking this way? How can we remove David Williams and protect the people of Southbridge from this type of pandering ignorance?

    3. Kid, during the last meeting, Wliams pandered the best, but seriously he if the third best we have. The Chairman and Dean Cook are such friends of the operator that their lips are qualified to vote in Vermont from kissing so much Cassella ass.

    4. Kid, I think you misunderstood my comment. The "have it both ways" refers to the town's desire to keep the tax rate low means there is not enough free cash to buy the property and make sure this stays undeveloped. This property is now on the table, and in this blog, because of Commercial drive and the town's desire to develop this section of town. I am in no way advocating that this land be used for landfill but the town could have prevented this from happening if it bought the land. Since the town passes on its option, then anyone else can buy it. Casella is interested and has stated its intent but it becoming a LF isn't completely in their hands. I, and others, have expressed repeatedly at BOH meetings the desire to make sure this does not become a LF. The hope is that if Casella buys this property, it will be used for a resource recovery operations. This land becoming a landfill rest mainly between Casella and the town council. The BOH is charged with health and safety issues after any deal is made.

  5. It seems Mr. Williams want's it both ways. As a BOH member he says health board is charged with health and safety issues, yet at the last BOH meeting, Mr. Williams was more concerned with the financial impact of the town council voting down the latest landfill expansion plan, than he was with health and safety. Even the BOH Chairman, who has never been too concerned with health issues, had to remind Mr. Williams the BOH should only be concerned with health and safety issues, not financial issues.


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