Framingham’s latest residential property tax bills have people fuming and pointing fingers at various parties they feel are to blame for the dramatic $562 tax increase for the average homeowner.
While residential tax bills increased dramatically, commercial property assessments dropped an average of 6%, creating a 10% shift in assessment burden this year.
Fingers have been pointed in many directions. However the situation we find ourselves in has most fundamentally been caused by the Framingham Planning Board.
For the better part of a decade the majority of this board has worked to make the permitting process unnecessarily difficult, expensive and frustrating for anyone who wanted to re-develop, improve or expand the value of real property in Framingham. Without improvements, upgrades or new construction, much of our tax base has decayed and depreciated in value. Hence we have a town riddled with empty properties and abandoned shopping centers.
A Planning Board whose majority has discouraged development of almost any kind is the major reason for the drop in commercial property assessments which has required homeowners to fund the resulting revenue shortfall. Since the latest tax bills went out a great deal of discussion has focused on the accuracy of some assessments, spending levels, conflicts of interest of government officials and other issues. Arching over these concerns is one undisputable economic fact: when companies don’t want to do business in a community, the value of commercial property in that community drops.
The Planning Board needlessly drags applicants, their attorneys, engineers and architects being paid hundreds of dollars an hour through multiple hearings discussing irrelevant minutia that is often based on the personal tastes and agendas of individual members regarding colors and types of plant species.
The time, money and dignity that applicants have to sacrifice before finally getting a project that was actually pretty good in the first place, approved after months of foot dragging by this board has given us an awful reputation among real estate and building professionals across New England. The word on the street is, ‘don’t do business in Framingham if you can avoid it.
If this trend doesn’t stop NOW the quality of life for all of us who live here is going to suffer even more. When a community begins an economic slide like we have, without intervention, the velocity of the slide will only accelerate. Perhaps in the next property re-evaluation residential property taxes will go up even more. That’s not something we should be willing to wait to find out.
There is a write-in seat open on the Planning Board in the April 3rd town election. Whoever receives the most votes for this particular seat could determine the future of this community.
Please pay attention and educate yourself on the issues in this race. This is the most powerful position in Framingham at the moment. We need the greatest voter participation possible to ensure that the results we get are what the majority of our community really wants and needs.
Copyright ©2012 Cheryl Tully Stoll