Saturday, October 30, 2021

Article #14- A Vote for Additional Shopping in Town

This article regarding Article #14 was submitted by Jim Moran, Longmeadow resident. 

______________________________________

916 Williams Street
 
Warrant Article #14 at the Special Town Meeting on Tuesday, November 2 will likely decide the future of the Church property at the corner of Redfern Drive and Williams Street as voters will decide on a possible change to its zoning from Residential to Commercial as requested by the current owners- The Colvest Group. (Article #14)

Question- Do town residents want to see additional shopping in town or do they want to see their taxes reduced through commercial development of the property or both?

Voters at the Special Town Meeting on Tuesday need to know the impact of this development on their quarterly tax bill.

Because Colvest and others in town including some Select Board members are promoting this development as a means to reduce property taxes for homeowners or to mitigate the effects of the Proposition 2.5 tax ceiling, I decided to determine the actual impact of additional property taxes from a new shopping center at this location on our budget process. 

Normally I would ask long time town employee Paul Pasterczyk with budget related questions but he retired this past June and is no longer available.  My next best resource is Mark Gold- a long time member of the Select Board and one of the most knowledgeable members of our town government regarding Longmeadow's budget process.

Here are some of Mark Gold's comments in this matter....

Below are recent estimates made by the Longmeadow Assessors office with assistance from KRT appraisals for property values and tax revenue for the proposed 916 Williams Street development based upon a similar recently developed adjacent parcel for the Longmeadow Shops.

 
The Town of Longmeadow raises approximately $56 million every year through property taxes.  For ease of computation, let's say they go up by 2% per year (last year was 1.78%, but the Prop 2-1/2 limit is 2.5% so 2% is a good compromise).  2% of $56 million is $1,120,000 per year.  That's what the town needs to increase our tax revenue by each year JUST TO KEEP A LEVEL SERVICE BUDGET This annual increase covers town/ school salary increases, increases in the cost of fuel, etc..

When improved, Colvest's property will bring in about $175K in annual tax revenues.  The rest (water, storm water, sewer, etc.) is a wash because of enterprise funds.  Meals taxes (if there's a restaurant) would be extra.  But the property already brings in $25K in taxes, so it is only a net increase of $150K.  That's 13%  of the annual increase we need, and that increase only comes in ONE YEAR. So the impact of this property on our Prop 2.5 tax ceiling issue is negligible.  We need a 30 house subdivision coming into the town every 3rd or 4th year if we want the growth to impact tax rates.

Looking at the impact of the development on the average homeowner's tax bill.  
For 2021...
  1. Total Town property evaluation was $2,283,546,608
  2. Amount to be raised by taxes:  $56,494,943
  3. Tax rate;  (2 divided by 1):   $24.74
So, according to above table, a Colvest building (there's also land value, but that's already in line 1 above) will be valued between $4.6 and $5.5 million.  Let's call it $5 million.  All other things being equal, that would result in the following calculation:
  1. Total Town evaluation was $2,288,546,608  (increase of $5 million)
  2. Amount to be raised by taxes:  $56,494,943  (this doesn't change in this scenario) 
  3. Tax rate;  (B divided by A):   $24.69

That's a reduction of $0.05 in the tax rate. 
For the "average" home assessed at $354,000, that's a savings of $15 in ONE YEAR ONLY.
   After that, the taxes go up again, although one could argue that they save that $15 every year in perpetuity.

Regarding Tuesday's town meeting vote on Article 14 .....
Vote YES if you simply desire to see additional shopping options in town. Remember a YES vote will have a very minor effect on your tax bill.

Vote NO if you want this property to remain zoned as Residential.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Zone Change Premature, Vote No


This "letter to the editor" was published in the Reminder on 10/28/2021 and reprinted here with permission of the author, Bruce Colton who submitted this letter as an individual.

____________________________________

As a long-time member of the Longmeadow Planning Board, I am proudest of my sponsorship of the town’s site and design review by-law. Site and design review is the town’s strongest tool for regulating growth.

The bylaw is most empowering when combined with a developer’s need to obtain a zone change to accomplish its goals.

Though it is not widely realized by our residents, the former Christian Science Church, at 916 Williams St., was sold several years ago to a developer who seeks to use the site for commercial development. Insofar as the property is presently zoned “residential,” this will require that the property be rezoned to “business” use.

The proposed zone change is arguably the most significant item on the warrant for the Nov. 2 Special Town Meeting.

In the normal course of events, a developer would have come before the Planning Board with detailed plans showing the proposed structures, site layout, traffic flow and curb cuts in order to request an endorsement of the proposed zone change.

However, in this instance, breaking with the practice of virtually every proposed development over the past 30 years, the Planning Board was shown only tentative and generalized proposals for the site’s development. The proposed development seemed designed to squeeze every last developable inch out of the property. Finally, the proposal seemed to ignore the steep decline in the need for retail space over the past decade.

For all these reasons, and the board’s need to be sensitive to the surrounding residential neighborhood and very heavy traffic on Williams Street and Bliss Road, the Planning Board voted 3-1 against rezoning the property as a business zone.

Given the rising cost of government services, it is important that Longmeadow obtain as much property tax revenue as possible. However, the source of this revenue must be strictly regulated.

The site and design review process works best for the town when a proposed development requires a zone change. This gives the Town Meeting voters the ability to see detailed development plans before casting their votes on a zone change. Granting a zone change at this stage of the process will seriously compromise the Planning Board’s ability to shape this development in the town’s interests.

The developer should consider withdrawing its request for a zone change at the Nov. 2 Special Town Meeting.

If not, the voters should vote down this premature zone change.

I am writing this letter as an individual.

Bruce Colton
Longmeadow

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Proposed Zone Change- 916 Williams Street

This letter has been submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz by Mark Gold, a member of the Longmeadow Select Board.... 

______________________________________

916 Williams Street (Colvest-Longmeadow LLC-owner)


At the October 4, 2021 meeting the Select Board voted 3-2 to place an article on the Special Fall Town Meeting warrant that would change the zoning of the parcel of land at the corner of Redfern Drive and Williams Street that is currently the site of the First Church of Christian Scientists.
 
This 2.92 acre site has been owned by a developer for several years.  The developer is seeking the zone change from residential to commercial to allow for commercial development of the property.
 
At a hearing earlier this summer, the Longmeadow Planning Board voted 4-1 to oppose this zone change.  Their primary reason for this opposition was that the developer did not present a site and design plan for review by the Planning Board, but rather discussed general alternatives for the development of the property.  The Planning Board opposed the zone change because without an approved site and design review by the Board, a zone change would give a developer " carte blanche" to construct commercial development on the property.
 
This proposed zone change will be the subject of a vote at the Special Town Meeting that will be held on Tuesday, November 2nd at 7 PM (location to be determined).  
 
It is important that residents interested in voicing and voting their opinions on this proposal attend that meeting IN PERSON.  There are no provisions for absentee or proxy voting at a town meeting. 
 
If you are interested in contributing your vote to this issue, please attend this meeting.  If you know of someone who lives in the neighborhood who should know of this upcoming vote, please pass along this information to them. 
 
Mark Gold/ Longmeadow Select Board

Monday, August 30, 2021

Skatepark Site Proposal at Bliss Park

This letter was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Fran Cress, Longmeadow resident.

_______________________________

August 16, 2021

TO: LONGMEADOW CITIZENS

RE: SKATEPARK SITE PROPOSAL BLISS PARK

This is not an indictment of Skateparks (SP). However, Bliss Park is NOT a suitable location for the proposed Skatepark. Information provided herein explains that position. It also questions the process by which Longmeadow approaches development projects.


I have been unable to confirm that this proposal was supported by collaborative community planning. I do know that the SP proposal ignored: (a) a Town Vote that denied organizers their request to fund a SP study and, (b) two Town Plans that were developed with community input and are intended to direct what, where, when and how we use taxpayer supported capital for infrastructure, recreational and conservation improvements on Town Land.

(1) The current 2021-2028 Town Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) was in development in 2020. Between January and June of that year feedback from the Town was being collected via Public Survey. The Plan was approved and presented to the community on February 2, 2021
(See Plan). 
The OSRP directs related Town planning for the designated period.

Out of 400 respondents to the public questionnaire/survey only 5 respondents expressed an interest in a skatepark, or a 1.25%, an indisputable quantitative measure of lack of support. Of the 146 respondents who provided additional comments, a SP was mentioned only 9 times. A Skatepark did not distinguish itself as an overall priority for the Town.. A "feasibility" study is in the plan - but a "feasibility" study is an assessment of the practicality of a proposed plan or method or concept - it is not a site assessment. A site assessment comes if a feasibility study determines this is something Longmeadow should pursue as a recreational investment based on project's relevant factors (ex: including economic, technical, legal, scheduling considerations, resource impacts, etc.) A task force to undertake a feasibility study was never formed. An ad hoc group led by Alex Grant was already advancing the siting of a Skatepark. They now identify as the Skatepark Working Group.

At a Town Meeting on November 05, 2019, Article 24 for Funding of a SP site study was submitted and failed. Opponents to the Article recommended that any development decisions be withheld until the new OSRP was promulgated. Notwithstanding this lack of Town support, Alex Grant submitted a grant application to the CPC later in the fall of 2019. The CPC, the Town Committee tasked with approving grant proposals for the tax money set aside under the Community Preservation Act, chose to approve the study giving it “tacit” Town Approval despite the Town vote on 11/05/2019. This moved the grant application to Town Meeting on June 23rd, 2020 under Article 30 for Town consideration. The Article passed at this lightly attended COVID Town Meeting under “Consent Agenda 6” with no debate. Curiously, the record for Consent Agenda 6 omits Article 30 in its list, but it could be inferred that it was to have been included.

Special Interest Groups should not be able to co-op limited tax dollars unless their project has been identified as a Town goal. If a citizen or a group of citizens have a new concept they want integrated into a Town Plan they should bring their concept before the Town by offering a series of forums for discussion. Subsequently, the concept should be voted upon at Town Meeting. I am not aware of forums of this type being brought before Town residents prior to November 2019 or June 2020 regarding the proposed development of a SP.

(2) The Environmentally Sustainable Landscape Plan for Bliss and Laurel Park was developed in the Spring of 2020 through collaborative engagement of Longmeadow Citizens To Save Our Parks (LCSOP), citizens of our community and Plan drafters; The Conway School of Northampton. (See comprehensive plan) This Plan was also funded by a CPA grant of $12,000 but, was the culmination of four and a half years of work by the LCSOP to legally preserve Bliss and Laurel Parks as parkland in perpetuity under Article 97 of the MASS Constitution after the Town had attempted to site the Adult Center in Bliss Park. LCSOP prevailed three times at Town Meeting in receiving citizen support, first to stop the development, then to compel the Town to legally document the two Parks as protected and finally to obtain funding for the CPA Grant. During development of this Landscape Plan, a Skatepark was not discussed, requested nor contemplated despite robust community engagement.

The current proposal to site a Skatepark in Bliss Park is being promoted with a blind eye to its future impact. It will be extremely costly to construct and to maintain. It is in conflict with the Town’s expressed desires for these parks. (See attachments.) It will impact the ecology of Cooley Brook, already impaired and designated an “Urban Waterway” whose water quality is being monitored by LCSOP in collaboration with our partner the CT River Conservancy. The brook suffers from dramatic erosion as a result of undersized and deteriorating stormwater infrastructure. The brook and associated parkland environment will suffer further erosion as a result of the proposed SP, a large 15,000 square foot impermeable concrete surface. Laurel Pond whose contours and depth have been dramatically affected by increasing sedimentation caused by erosion upstream will also be further impacted. Both the brook and the pond require significant restoration. Three options were offered to restore Laurel Pond based upon findings from a proposed hydrology study.

If we are to be successful in our Town planning efforts, the Town government must adhere to guidelines and priorities established by constructively developed Town Wide Plans such as the OSRP and The Sustainable Landscape Plan for Bliss and Laurel Parks. An internal screening process must be implemented, through which all requests for tax dollars are vetted against these PLANS to determine whether new proposals are in accord with or in conflict with articulated goals. This should include Community Preservation Act grant requests. Projects in conflict should be set aside and not permitted to reach the floor of Town Meeting before they are presented to the community in widely publicized Community Forums. The Town Meeting is not an appropriate place for dialogue. Rational and Informed discussions do not prevail. Costly mistakes often ensue.

WE ARE NOT USING “TOWN PLANS” TO DIRECT THIS SKATEPARK DEVELOPMENT. Therefore, the following should be noted.

a 15,000 SF Impermeable surface WILL impact erosion in Cooley Brook especially with associated stormwater infrastructure issues

the burden of construction costs and annual maintenance costs in relation to the percent of citizens will utilize the structure makes it a flawed Town investment

the cost of necessary lighting, regular police detail and, DPW engagement will tax already scarce resources

if public access is limited to Town residents, how will the town manage user identification

alternatively, if the site is made accessible to non-residents as a “destination skatepark,” similar to the adjacent playground use, what regulations will be promulgated and enforced to limit potential liability costs; insurance, legal, waste management, hours of operation and staffing

if this structure is not designed to meet the needs of both skaters and BMS/off-road bikers will citizens continue to assume that they can alter public lands for their personal use with trail systems that are neither approved nor constructed utilizing approved design standards

consider the impact to existing infrastructure and adjacent neighborhoods that will result from increased noise, lighting, traffic congestion, parking issues and restroom facilities, the latter two of which are currently insufficient, seasonally locked or permanently mothballed

does this support our efforts to limit development that impacts our carbon footprint and contributes positively to our climate change initiatives.

Efforts to improve Bliss and Laurel Parks have seen enormous strides forward in the last five years despite limited funding. We are currently in a position to benefit from in-kind funds from The Army Corps of Engineers, National Fish & Wildlife and State Fish and Game to completely remove the derelict infrastructure west of Laurel Pond in Cooley Brook; the vestiges of the former water supply district. We have also just been selected by the CT RIver Conservancy for funding to cover an engineering assessment of the site to outline the best removal process and its potential cost. Our verbal commitment from the Army Corps of Engineers is pending completion of a hydrology study of the brook. This is required to ensure that deconstruction of this infrastructure, which is now a century old, will improve the flow of the brook without detriment and offer us a clear route to select the appropriate option for revitalizing the Laurel Pond area among the three options outlined as possibilities in the 2020 Sustainable Landscape Plan, our subsequent project. The cost of such a hydrology study is not expected to be more than $15,000. We have yet to locate a source of funding that does not require taxpayer dollars.

In light of the above, the fact that we agreed to appropriate CPA funds for a plan to site a skatepark that the majority of the Town did not support is wasteful. The fact that we are now likely to be asked to spend the kind of money necessary to build and sustain said skatepark, on Article 19 conserved land, is disturbing. It may even be illegal, something that will be explored. It is time we aligned our spending priorities with identified and critical issues that support improvements to the Town’s existing, yet compromised and ageing infrastructure AND undertake projects that reflect what the majority of citizens have expressed about their vision for conserved public spaces.

Respectfully submitted,

Fran Cress, Citizen

Monday, May 31, 2021

It's not the Tax Rate that is important!

 

It's not the tax rate that takes a bit out of your wallet but it is the property tax bill that you receive every 3 months. 

 


Media articles for the past couple of years have repeatedly used the headline,  "Longmeadow has the highest tax rate in the state of Massachusetts.".   Not surprisingly, many Longmeadow residents have voiced their concern.

It turns out that Longmeadow is further down the list of cities and towns with regard to average tax bill.


Table I Longmeadow ranks #40 for Average Tax Bill in FY2020

It is interesting to note that in FY2020 Longmeadow ranked #40 in the state for the average tax bill.  FY2021 tax bills for homeowners in Longmeadow ranged from $3500 --> $50,000 for property values ranging from $150,000 --> $2 million.  This is quite a wide range.  All town residents no matter their property value or their tax bill enjoy all of the benefits of living in Longmeadow.

Longmeadow property tax bills are calculated as follows:

TAX BILL = Tax Rate x Property Assessment

Example
Property Assessment = $350,000
FY2021 Tax Rate = $24.75/$1000

FY2021 TAX BILL = 24.75 x 350 = $8662

The chart below (Figure 1) shows the change in average tax bill from FY2000 --> FY2021 including the various Proposition 2½ operational and debt exclusion overrides approved by town voters.  Since 2008, Longmeadow property taxes have increased an average of ~3.4%/year vs. a CPI inflation rate of 1.7%Employee benefits and in particular health care costs have increased much faster than CPI in recent years.  In addition, a portion of this rate of increase in property taxes was the construction of a new high school at a cost of $44 million to taxpayers.  Without the decision to build the new high school, property taxes would have increased an average of 3.0%/year (vs. 3.4%) during this period.

Figure 1 [click chart to enlarge]

Let's take a look at Longmeadow's Tax Rates and Average Property Values from 1990 to the present (see Figure 2 below):

Figure 2 [click chart to enlarge]

In Table II below there is a summary of Longmeadow Property Values and Tax Rates for the past 30 years for various time periods shown highlighted in Figure 2.  You can see that during periods with little or no appreciation of property values (1991 - 2002, 2006 - 2020), there was a significant increase in the corresponding tax rates.  Conversely, when there was a significant increase in property values (2002 - 2006), tax rates decreased significantly.  This is not a surprise given the math involved and shown in the above Property Tax calculation example.  You should also note that in the last 5 years (2016-2021) the tax rate has shown only a small increase with a moderate increase in average property values.

Table II

A major reason why Longmeadow is the perennial leader in tax rate in Massachusetts is the lack of appreciation in real estate property values as compared to the eastern part of the state.  Perhaps the construction of the East - West rail system from Springfield to Boston as championed by Senator Eric Lesser would increase the demand for housing in Western Massachusetts and increase Longmeadow's property values.

I believe that Longmeadow has done a good job for the past 30+ years in delivering a wide range of excellent town services from schools to public safety that our town residents have come to expect at a reasonable cost.

Jim Moran
Longmeadow

Friday, May 28, 2021

Bliss Pool will not open for the Summer 2021!

This letter was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Marjorie Morgan, a long time resident of Longmeadow.

_________________________________

On the eve of the Memorial Day holidays many in Longmeadow received a E-mail from Longmeadow Parks and Recreation Dept.  The good news is that the Reynolds Pool at Greenwood will open June 16th.

And by the way, Bliss Pool will not open this year, hoping for "a stronger season next year".  What does that mean?  Stronger what?

While you think about this I can add a few things that come to my mind.

First, half the town is left with no open pool.  The Bliss Park playground is heavily utilized.  No swim for these kids.  Many of the kids who use this pool ride their bike there.  No one drives them.  Just look at the bike racks on a hot day.
 
Someone suggested, let me see if I can recall, the following.  The Longmeadow Country Club, the Field Club, the Yacht Club, the JCC and so on.
 
I shouldn’t need to point out these are expensive clubs to join.  Some  still by invitation?  If the parents can afford to join, they would need transportation.  Many parents work....biking is not a option for little children and not really safe for older ones.  Many younger kids arrive at Bliss with their baby sitter.

This has been a difficult year for our community and it’s children.  Schools were closed, opened, who knew what next.  Closing a well known loved activity simply does not make sense.

This plan results in economic discrimination as well as geographical. If you can’t pay you can’t play.  If you can’t get to the pool, well, wait for a “stronger" season.
 
Our community spoke out to Save Alex’s Bagel Shop....we did it.  Let the Select Board know how you feel.  Let the town manager know and ask Parks and Rec how we can be stronger!
 
This comes under the heading “ if it isn’t one thing it’s another”.  Don’t let this slip by.  We need to balance resources....!   
 
Marjorie Morgan
Longmeadow Resident

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Longmeadow Completes Street Light Project

This summary report was submitted by Select Board member Mark Gold who championed this cost savings project from the beginning.  Cost savings are expected to be ~$200,000/year with a projected 10 year savings of almost $2,000,000.

----------------------------------------------------------

The Town of Longmeadow recently announced the completion of the street light purchase and conversion project.  As a result of this effort the town will save over $4.8 million and 157 million kilowatt hours over the 20 project life.

The project was conceived more than 10 years ago but restarted in 2018 when the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities adopted a street light cost structure that, for the first time, allowed municipalities to take advantage of high efficiency lighting such as Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).  

Using funding approved at the May 2019 Annual Town meeting, with additional support from state, regional and utility grants, the project began when the street lights were purchased from Eversource in the fall of 2019.  In spring, 2020, with project management by Tanko Lighting of San Francisco (a company that specializes in municipal lighting conversion) and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (the Boston area equivalent of the Pioneer Valley Planning Committee), Longmeadow began the process of specifying, purchasing and replacing all the street lights in town with high efficiency LED lighting.  From June through August all 1424 streetlights in town were replaced with LED fixtures or internal electronics and emitters.  

The project economics and energy savings impact of the project are summarized in the attached table.  The cost savings ($201,914 in the first year) are net of bond, maintenance and lost tax revenue and increase after the project bond is repaid in year 10.  These savings do not assume any increase in energy costs over the 20-year period of review.  The high efficiency LED lighting results in energy savings from this project just shy of 70% per year. 

  
[click table to enlarge]

The new streetlights carry a 5-year warranty.  Any problems with street lights should be reported by calling the DPW office at 567-3400 or completing the street light problem report form that can be found on the town’s DPW web page.  The Longmeadow project team members were Town Manager Lyn Simmons, Select Board member Mark Gold, DPW Director Mario Mazza and Purchasing Manager Chad Thompson.    Residents seeking more information or a more detailed financial summary should contact the Select Board office.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Longmeadow School Committee/ Fall 2020 School Opening


Last week during a lengthy 4+ hour meeting the Longmeadow School Committee voted to have a remote start to their school year with a phased in to hybrid approach. The school year will begin on September 14 remotely, with grades K–5 beginning their hybrid schooling on Sept. 21, grades 6–8 beginning their hybrid schooling on Sept. 29, and grades 9–12 beginning their hybrid schooling on Oct. 5. Students in pre–K and students with intensive needs will begin their school year in person.
 

See Reminder Publications article for additional details-  Longmeadow School Committee votes to start school year remotely with phased in approach.

If you were not able to watch this important meeting last week here is a link to the full meeting: https://youtu.be/MYWTq5st4LE

Below are couple of the key remarks made by School Committee members as well as Kathleen Russotto/ President of the Longmeadow Education expressing their positions:

Kathleen Russotto- President, Longmeadow Education Assn
https://youtu.be/MYWTq5st4LE?t=4150


Gianna Allentuck, Longmeadow School Committee Member
https://youtu.be/MYWTq5st4LE?t=4700
 

Kevin Shea, Longmeadow School Committee Member
https://youtu.be/MYWTq5st4LE?t=7639
 

Bronwyn Monahan, Longmeadow School Committee Member
https://youtu.be/MYWTq5st4LE?t=10351
 

Jamie Hensch, Longmeadow School Committee Member
https://youtu.be/MYWTq5st4LE?t=10658


The next meeting of the Longmeadow School Committee is scheduled for August 18 at 6:30 PM.  The meeting will be televised on LCTV 809 and live streamed on Longmeadow YouTube channel for residents who are interested in listening into the discussion.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Our Town Needs Article #14 to Pass at the Annual Town Meeting


This post was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Mark Gold, member of the Longmeadow Select Board.  It is a series of slides created by Mr. Gold with information about Article #14.   Copies of these slides will be handed out at the Annual Town Meeting on June 23.

The Select Board at an earlier meeting this month voted to approve for this article to be added to the Meeting Warrant.



Click charts to enlarge





Please vote YES on Article 14.

by Mark Gold, Longmeadow Select Board

Friday, June 19, 2020

Vote YES on Article #14





This post was written by Jim Moran who has followed and written about Longmeadow town finances on  the LongmeadowBuzz blog for many years.






Many of the discussions on Longmeadow social media and elsewhere focus on the headline that Longmeadow has the highest tax (mil) rate in MA. Little attention is paid to the fact that there are 46 other towns in MA that have significantly higher average single family tax bills vs. Longmeadow.  

For example, the town of Weston has an average tax bill that is more than twice that for Longmeadow but Weston's tax rate is only 12.83 vs. 24.21 for Longmeadow.

Click to enlarge chart

It is also interesting to note that the rate of increase of the average tax bill from FY2000 --> FY2020 for Longmeadow vs. other towns in the area as well as eastern Massachusetts (see chart below).

Click to enlarge chart

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Did you know that average Longmeadow property taxes have increased only ~4% /year for the past 20 years? Tax bills in many towns in eastern MA including Weston and Lexington have increased at significantly higher rates (see table above).
     
     
  2. Did you know that the Longmeadow tax rate has decreased a number of times in recent years but average tax bills increased at the same time?
     
  3. Did you know that if the average Longmeadow assessed property value decreased that taxes will still increase? 
     
  4. Did you know if the town doubled the tax (mil) rate for local businesses, it would deliver very little tax relief to home owners?  This is because Longmeadow's total property assessment is primarily residential (97%/ 3%).
      
  5. Did you know that the Proposition 2½ tax (mil) rate cap of $25/1000 is an arbitrary number established almost 40 years ago (1983)?
     
  6. Did you know that Longmeadow is 97% residential/ 3% commercial and a total assessed value over $2 billion? Most new growth in assessment value comes from home improvement not new home/ business development.
     
  7. Did you know if the current COVID-19 situation results in a significant downturn in the economy and decrease in property values, the town could be forced to reduce taxes resulting in a significant reduction in services?
ARTICLE 14. To see if the Town will vote to petition the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to permit the Town, subject to approval at a town-wide referendum vote, to exempt the Town of Longmeadow from the requirements of paragraphs (b), (d), and (e) of Section 21C of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59 by adding paragraph (f) as follows: 

(f) The local appropriating authority of any city or town may, by two-thirds vote, seek voter approval at a regular or special election to accept this paragraph f, thereby rejecting the limit set forth in paragraph (b) and not be subject to it provided however that the question submitted shall be as follows:

''Shall the (city/town) of ___ adopt paragraph f of MGL Chap 59 section 21C thereby rejecting the 2.5% of assessed market value tax ceiling limit set forth in paragraph b of MGL Chap50 Sec 21C?

Yes ___ No ___"; and provided, further, that said question shall be deemed approved if a majority of the persons voting thereon shall vote ''yes''. or in other ways modifying Chapter 51 section 21C to affect this local exemption from the 2.5% of assessed market value tax ceiling limit, or take any other action relative thereto.

This warrant article allows the Town to request from the Massachusetts legislature the option to allow towns to waive the tax ceiling imposed by Proposition 2-1/2 if property values drop to a level that would cause the local tax rate to exceed the current maximum allowable rate. Such a decline in property values would not allow the Town budget to sustain services in Longmeadow. Even if this requested legislation is enacted, the town of Longmeadow would have to accept the option by voting “yes” at both a town meeting (2/3 vote) and a referendum ballot of a town-wide election.

Become an informed voter.

Vote YES on Article 14 at the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday so that the town has the tools it needs to navigate difficult times ahead.  Remember a YES vote does not increase taxes or the tax rate.


by Jim Moran/ 40 year Longmeadow Town Resident