Monday, August 7, 2017

all material on this blog is directed to members of the general public and is not intended to be read by my fellow Committee members, nor do I intend for any readers to convey such material directly or indirectly to my fellow Committee members.

from the audit report;

The largest revenue source for Templeton is property taxes, representing about 59% of fiscal year 2016 revenue. Property taxes in Templeton come mostly from residential sources. Residential property taxes equal 89% of property tax revenue, the property tax burden is mostly on the residents. Unlike the rest of the state of Massachusetts, this area has not seen the resurgence of the housing market prices. Templeton's median household income is significantly less than the state wide average. Templeton generally taxes at or very near it's levy limit every year.

Education represents the largest expense for the town, at 48.7%. Public safety represents 19% of expense and public works represents 11.4% of costs. No other expense were more than 10%. Again, this is from the audit for fiscal year 2016.

Without an override, property taxes cannot increase by more than 2 1/2% per year, yet health insurance rises on average by 7% per year. So do you think keeping the health insurance cost split at its current level is sustainable? Do you think that a 2 1/2% annual increase will keep up with increases in other costs is sustainable? Is it right and just to seek property tax increases before adjusting other things, such as expenses, with one being adjusting the cost split of health insurance?

There are services that can be had without the burden of employee benefits, which equal higher operating costs for the taxpayers. Some of these are accounting services, dispatch and ambulance service to name a few. These are things paid for by a fee, which could be significant but does not come with the added burden of pension/retirement and health insurance. Just like the example of the state, increased benefit costs take away from education, roads, etc. Eventually, the town needs to change how it does business or residents will have to pay more. Their choice and their wallet. My opinion is that those who speak the loudest against these changes are usually the ones who stand to lose something, and they wish to keep those freebies, paid for by residents/taxpayers.

Opinions expressed are those of Jeff Bennett and do not represent any other member of the Advisory Committee 
posted by Jeff Bennett