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Letter to the Editor: Town Garage Reality Check – Cost Impact on Average Taxpayer

November 6, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum No Comments

To the Editor:

Prior to voting on the town garage referendum on Tuesday, I thought it would be helpful to look at what this project is going to cost me. Given all the concern over costs expressed in the Canton Compass and elsewhere there is no doubt that everyone has an interest in cost but we never see it expressed in terms of how does it impact our household budgets. Fortunately, all the information we need is contained in the document that was presented by town officials at the October 26, 2016 Informational Town Meeting in the section entitled Impact on Average Taxpayer.

We find that the total cost of the project is $3,825,000 which will be financed through a bond issue to be paid back over a 20 year period. We also learn that the average home assessment in Canton is $238,832, which is 70% of a market value of $341,000 at the current 29.67 mill rate. The debt payment in the first year will be $319,313 and the cost to the average taxpayer in the first year will be $68.61, or $5.72 per month. Over the 20 year life of the bond the annual payment declines and in the final year the cost will be $42.15, or $3.51 per month. Obviously, if you are in a $170,000 condominium, your cost will be about one half of these figures and if you are in a larger $680,000 home your cost will be double. In other words, the increase in property tax in the first year for paying off this project will range from a low of about $2.86 per month to a high of about $11.44 per month. By the end of the 20 year term the range will be from $1.76 to $7.02 per month.

Well, I thought, that seems pretty reasonable. I should be able to handle that. Then it occurred to me, what if the 2013 referendum for $5.4 million had passed? What would that have cost me? By the simple proportion of 5.4÷3.825, I realized that the first year tax increase for the average taxpayer would have been $8.06 per month instead of the $5.72 that the proposed project will cost. Remarkable! If I’m that average taxpayer, I’m only saving $2.34 per month with the proposed project. A gallon of gas per month! Is that all??!!

Then I couldn’t help thinking, what did we miss out by not passing that $5.4M referendum in 2013? First, if we had passed it, the DPW would probably already be enjoying a 20,000 ft.² facility, high and dry on a site away from the river, namely 325 Commerce Drive. Second, we would be talking about how to best use the now available, former town garage site and not be worrying about the soggy softball field that was moved 1 foot closer to groundwater.

Then I realized, I don’t have to dwell on “what if”and lament a lost opportunity. I can simply vote “NO” and look forward to a new opportunity to do it right, for me, my fellow taxpayers, and most importantly for the hard-working employees at DPW. And it will only cost me $2.34 per month!

James Grant


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