There has been much discussion over the past few months about Longmeadow approaching the Proposition 2½ tax ceiling. The concern is that Longmeadow’s FY 2016 tax rate is quickly approaching the $25.00 limit allowed by Proposition 2½. If taxes grow at 2½% per year, and there’s no change in the value of homes, our 2021 budget – just four years from now – will be limited.
As we approach the limit of the town’s ability to raise taxes, there are many actions the town can take, but panic shouldn’t be one of them. We must not allow the 30 year-old Proposition 2½ law to trigger short-sighted actions that would change the 233 year-old character of Longmeadow. Many suggested proposals advocate expanded development, including conversion of our open spaces to commercial and residential use. I disagree with this singular approach and believe that most Longmeadow residents agree with me. Surveys have consistently indicated that people are attracted to Longmeadow by its parks, tree lined streets, and beautiful residential neighborhoods. With a thoughtful approach, we can meet the challenge of Proposition 2½ without turning our open spaces into commercial developments and our ball fields into housing sub-divisions.
The tax ceiling limit issue must be addressed by understanding why we are near this limit and developing a comprehensive approach to resolving this challenge. A discussion with our state legislators about the impact of the tax ceiling will have on Longmeadow is a necessary starting point. Legislative action that would modify the $25 tax rate ceiling component of the 1982 Proposition 2½ law, while retaining those elements of the statute that limit the town from overspending should be considered. Carefully considered development should also be included in our plan, as well as actions that provide alternate sources of income. Four years ago I lead the adoption of the local options meals tax that now provides over $135,000 each year in added revenue, and I believe that opportunities like a solar power facility can be part of a program that provides revenue growth without compromising the character that drew us all to Longmeadow. Converting taxes to fees, whether for storm water or trash collection, isn’t a long term solution to the issue we face.
By taking a judicious approach with the open space land we offer for development, looking for new sources of revenue, and keeping a close eye on our spending levels, Longmeadow can continue to provide the level and quality of services we have come to expect without changing either the quality of life or the Town’s character that attracted us to select Longmeadow as our home.
I’m running for re-election to the Longmeadow Select Board because the critical decisions that determine our town’s approach to the Proposition 2½ limits must be made over the next 3 years. I intend to bring the same balanced approach I have brought to other issues in town to the resolution of this challenge.
I ask for your support in the June 14th election to continue as a member of Longmeadow’s Select Board.
Please join me in helping assure the rich future of our community, and that in addressing the financial challenges of the town we don’t compromise the character that defines Longmeadow.
Candidate for re-election
Longmeadow Select Board