By Beth David, Editor
The town of Fairhaven has provided a lot of material online to make the case in support of the Proposition 2 1/2 override vote coming up on Monday, 6/5, when the town will ask voters to approve $450,000 in additional tax revenue over the limit set by the state.
The town has prepared an informational video, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7YxSoGjggs, and has created an “override hub” on the town’s website at https://www.fairhaven-ma.gov/fy2024-override-information-hub
Online materials include the town’s budget presentations (Town, Schools, Capital Budget), a Frequently Asked Questions section, tax rate information, resources for senior citizens.
Proposition 2 1/2 was passed in Massachusetts in 1980. It limits the increase in property taxes (tax levy) that a municipality can raise each year by 2.5 percent. The formula also includes more for new growth. The state sets the tax levy limit and sends the amount to the town. The town then sets the tax rate, limiting it to the maximum allowed by the state.
This does not mean that individual taxes will not go up more than 2.5 percent. The amount is spread out among all properties. Houses in some areas of a town increase in value more than others; some homeowners may even pay less if the tax rate goes down and their properties do not increase in value.
This year, the tax rate is $9.73, which means homeowners pay $9.73 for each $1,000 their house is assessed at. For example, a house assessed at $394,058, the average amount of a home in Fairhaven, will be taxed at $3834 for FY2024, the current year. Last year’s (FY2023) tax rate was $9.95. So, the tax rate went down, but the overall value of most homes went up, so taxpayers will pay a little more.
The override will add 11 cents to the tax rate for a new FY24 tax rate of $9.84. The same average home will pay $3,878, a difference of $43.00 for the year.
The town also has some debt coming off the rolls, so that will also free up some money, lowering taxes.
You can use the online calculator to calculate your own home’s increase by visiting the information hub and clicking on “How Will a Tax Override Affect My Taxes?” on the left side menu.
The town has had shortfalls for several years. Town Meeting has addressed the shortfalls by using free cash, a one time revenue source, to supplement the operating budget. It was just a matter of time before that practice hit the proverbial wall.
The town is hopeful that the $450K override will be enough to “right the ship” and will not require additional overrides in the near future.
“Changes we cannot account for include a recession, loss of revenue, changes to cannabis regulations, etc.). Unfortunately, town budgets are susceptible to factors outside of a municipality’s control,” according to the Finance Team on the FAQ page. “Taking no action would absolutely exacerbate the problem and result in the need for a larger override or significant service cuts in the future. Small incremental change is better than a large tax increase all at once in a future year.”
The town has also implemented some measures to increase revenues starting next year, including an increase in fees, such as building permits; and pursuing new growth opportunities.
If the override fails, the schools will get cut $200,000 from the proposed budget passed at Town Meeting on 5/6/23. The reduction could result in cuts to the Family Center and athletic programs.
Another $250,000 will come from other departments. Raises to non-union employees will not be implemented; a couple of changes/ promotions in non-union jobs will be eliminated; and cuts to other departments will also be necessary and will be determined by the Town Administrator and department heads.
The special election will be on Monday, 6/5. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. All precincts vote at the Recreation Center, 227 Huttleston Ave. (near Stop & Shop).
Friday, May 26, 2023 is the last day to register to vote or make any changes, i.e., party, name or address for the Special Town Election. The Town Clerk’s Office will be open from 8:30am to 8:00pm on this day.
Friday, May 26, 2023 is the last day to request a MAIL-IN absentee ballot for the Special Election. The Town Clerk’s Office will be open from 8:30am to 5:00pm on this day.
Friday, June 2, 2023-12:00PM (NOON) is the last day/time to request an IN-PERSON Absentee Ballot in the Town Clerk’s Office.
Mail-in Voter Registration Forms are available at the Town Clerk’s Office, the Millicent Library and State and Federal offices.
For more information, contact the Fairhaven Town Clerk’s office, 508-979-4023; Town Hall, 40 Center Street, Fairhaven.
The Ballot Question will read: Shall the Town of Fairhaven be allowed to assess an additional $450,000 in real estate and personal property taxes for the fiscal year beginning July first, two thousand twenty-three?
Click here to download the 5/25/23 issue: 05-25-23 HuttlestonMP
Support local journalism, donate to the Neighb News with PayPal