Friday, March 16, 2018

for the benefit of selectmen: from the Massachusetts Municipal Association website.

Cadillac Tax:
The fate and composition of federal legislation on health care reform remains unclear, but it appears increasingly likely that the so-called Cadillac tax will come into effect, though not quite as soon as initially planned.
At the beginning of May, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, which is intended to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), but would retain many provisions of the ACA. Under the bill, those with preexisting conditions would still be able to get insurance, though states would have more flexibility in determining what conditions insurers would be required to cover. Individuals would still be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26, and there would be no lifetime cap on the amount of care an individual can receive on a given insurance plan.
The House bill would also retain the ACA’s Cadillac tax, which was designed to be the primary funding mechanism for the ACA to pay for some of the more costly policy changes.
The Cadillac tax is a 40 percent annual excise on individual health insurance plans valued above $10,800 and family plans valued above $29,500. The tax was originally due to go into effect in 2018, but the start date was pushed back to 2020. With the arrival of the Trump administration, however, there was uncertainty about the fate of the tax.

Note: 40 percent annual excise, perhaps that led to the confusion with motor vehicle excise tax?

There is also more information on the MIIA website.

Vehicle excise tax, Porsche, BMW, Ford, the formula is the same

Excise bills are prepared by the Registry of Motor Vehicles according to the information on the motor vehicle registration. They are sent to city or town assessors who commit them to the local tax collectors for distribution and collection of payment. Cities and towns may also prepare their own bills based on excise data sent by the Registry in conformity with Registry requirements.
Local tax collectors are responsible for collecting the motor vehicle and trailer excise. Collectors may appoint deputy tax collectors or may enter into agreements with collection agencies to assist them in the collection of delinquent accounts. Money collected on all bills, excluding deputy tax collectors’ fees, is put into the municipal treasury. Generally, tax collectors and deputy tax collectors do not accept partial payment of an excise bill. Taxpayers should be prepared to pay the full amount due. There are no special considerations for financial hardship.

An excise at the rate of $25 per one thousand dollars of valuation (effective 1/1/81) is levied on each motor vehicle. Information on the value of a motor vehicle is accessed electronically through a data bank complete with valuation figures. Different sources provide the valuation figures depending upon whether the motor vehicle is an automobile, a truck, a motorcycle, or a trailer. For example, automobile valuations are derived from figures published in the National Automobile Dealers Association Official Used Car Guide (NADA), to which the Registry has electronic access. Most public libraries have copies of NADA and other motor vehicle official guides.
Figures are the manufacturers’ list prices for vehicles in their year of manufacture. Present market value, price paid, or condition are not considered for excise tax purposes. The excise tax law (M.G.L. c.60A, s.1) establishes its own formula for valuation for state tax purposes whereby only the manufacturer’s list price and the age of the motor vehicle are considered. The formula is as follows:
In the year preceding the model year
(brand new car released before model year)
In the model year
In the second year
In the third year
In the fourth year
In the fifth and succeeding years

Under MGL Chapter 60A, all Massachusetts residents who own and register a motor vehicle must annually pay a motor vehicle excise. Also, under MGL Chapter 59, Section 2, it is important to note that every motor vehicle, whether registered or not, is subject to taxation, either as excise or personal property, for the privilege of road use, whether actual or future. The excise is levied by the city or town where the vehicle is principally garaged and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.

If you look on the Templeton tax recap sheet, you can find the amount of vehicle excise tax collected.
Curious about vehicle excise tax; where does it go?

Vehicle excise tax is included in "local receipts"

Ah…the excise tax.  The yearly bill you pay on the value of your car.  Why does Mass. have it?  To raise money of course.

But the comment has it wrong.  The excise tax isn’t “supposed” to go for road repairs.  It goes into the general fund of each city and town that collects the tax.  Ask the state’s Dept. of Revenue about this and here’s what they might say: 
“Motor Vehicle Excise tax revenue goes to a community’s general fund for the support of the general operating budget.  Use of this revenue is unrestricted.”
So it’s not earmarked.  Of course a community could decide to spend it on road repairs…there would be a good connection there…you know…cars…roads.  But I suppose that would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul and would create a hole in another part of municipal budgets.
One thing about the excise tax-  If there’s anything to like about a tax… this one (the) money goes to the town rather than to the state.  So at least you are supporting your own community. 
By the way, the cost is $25 per each $1000 valuation.  And I sure agree about the conditions of many of our roads…nasty.
Did someone mention Christopher Hitchens? Why yes they did.

from one article on his life by William Grimes, circa 2011.

Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-seller attacking religious belief, and dismayed his former comrades on the left by enthusiastically supporting the American-led war in Iraq, died on Thursday in Houston. He was 62.
The cause was pneumonia, a complication of esophageal cancer, Vanity Fair magazine said in announcing the death, at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Mr. Hitchens, who lived in Washington, learned he had cancerwhile on a publicity tour in 2010 for his memoir, “Hitch-22,” and began writing and, on television, speaking about his illness frequently.
“In whatever kind of a ‘race’ life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist,” Mr. Hitchens wrote in Vanity Fair, for which he was a contributing editor.
He took pains to emphasize that he had not revised his position on atheism, articulated in his best-selling 2007 book, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” although he did express amused appreciation at the hope, among some concerned Christians, that he might undergo a late-life conversion.
He also professed to have no regrets for a lifetime of heavy smoking and drinking. “Writing is what’s important to me, and anything that helps me do that — or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation — is worth it to me,” he told Charlie Rose in a television interview in 2010, adding that it was “impossible for me to imagine having my life without going to those parties, without having those late nights, without that second bottle.”
(reminds me of a photo on twitter of a supposed grown man, wearing a suit, holding a beer and then doing a face first plunge into a swimming pool)
Christopher Eric Hitchens was born on April 13, 1949, in Portsmouth, England. His father was a career officer in the Royal Navy and later earned a modest living as a bookkeeper.
Though it strained the family budget, Christopher was sent to private schools in Tavistock and Cambridge, at the insistence of his mother. “If there is going to be an upper class in this country, then Christopher is going to be in it,” he overheard his mother saying to his father, clinching a spirited argument.
He was politically attuned even as a 7-year-old. “I was precocious enough to watch the news and read the papers, and I can remember October 1956, the simultaneous crisis in Hungary and Suez, very well,” he told the magazine The Progressive in 1997. “And getting a sense that the world was dangerous, a sense that the game was up, that the Empire was over.”
Even before arriving at Balliol College, Oxford, Mr. Hitchens had been drawn into left-wing politics, primarily out of opposition to the Vietnam War. After heckling a Maoist speaker at a political meeting, he was invited to join the International Socialists, a Trotskyite party. Thus began a dual career as political agitator and upper-crust sybarite. He arranged a packed schedule of antiwar demonstrations by day and Champagne-flooded parties with Oxford’s elite at night. Spare time was devoted to the study of philosophy, politics and economics.

Okay, on one hand, a person says we need business to help with taxpayer relief, then when an idea is floated, ah, no, that is my friend, we cannot do that. So, perhaps everyone can attend and bring your ideas:

Templeton Board of Selectmen 
Town Hall, 160 Patriots Road, East Templeton
Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 6:30 p.m.

1. Call the Meeting to Order

2. Public Meeting~To Hear Comments, Suggestions & Concerns RE: FY’19 Budget

3. Discuss Town Administrator’s Proposed Budget & Legislative Package for FY’19

4. Adjournment

So, on another front, just as a proposal or thought, could the senior/community center be leased out to a private charity/organization and provide the same services to include the food pantry/bank? What, if any effect, would there be on the MART transportation service. As a side note, a few years back, my mother was at a rehab facility in Gardner and she had a doctors appointment at Gardner Hospital, so transportation was provided by Woods ambulance service by way of a handicap capable small bus/large van. It was about a five minute ride from facility to facility. The bill was $105.00, out of pocket for her, for that service. She has excellent health insurance by the way. She was in a wheel chair for the transport. 

So, when there is a call to close or change the senior center, perhaps because it is an "easy target" (my words) I hope all of these things, and more, are part of the discussion. What are residents willing to put away or mothball so there are funds/money for ALS ambulance service? What will be mothballed next time around, as in fiscal year 2020?

There is bean counting, there is political effects, friends/social effects, money/funding fallout, such as insurance consideration/costs for empty municipal buildings. So, there is an opportunity to be heard and put forth your ideas. 
Impact fees - a source of money to aid in road repair - could that be viable in Templeton?

Heavy trucks have an effect on roads, especially roads in distress, so could a fee structure be put in place to have an entity such as Graves Concrete and Graves sand and gravel pay a percentage of some amount to help raise money for road repair? I know that in some close by communities have such mechanisms in place. I also have to wonder about the once much talked about complete streets program available, which seems to have faded into distant memory. If start up funds or matching funds were/are needed, there appears to be $199,000.00 (+/-) of free cash - so called that could be used in that endeavor.

Of course there are a few shortfalls that have to be dealt with first as we as back fills (taking care of shortfalls in the fiscal year 2018 funding), so perhaps as soon as the next fiscal year begins, work could start on this subject; increase available funds without first increasing property taxes. we cannot go back to $10.00 per thousand, but I don't think we should be aiming for $20.00 per thousand either.

For the record, an example is there is a single tax rate in Templeton, right now that is $16.72 per thousand dollars of valuation and what ever all of the property Graves construction owns, for example is what is supposed to be paid to the Town. The question is or could be, what effect that operation has on Town Roads, do heavy sand laden trucks cause more wear, damage to roads than someone who travels the same road in a Ford for example.

Perhaps this post will cause some real debate and or ideas on how to provide needed or wanted Town services at a cost residents can afford. In my opinion, that means that everything should be on the table, honestly look at everything, even looking at services provided by town employees (salary and benefits) and look to see if those things could be done by a private service provider.

A nearby community, Ashburnham, has one of the highest property tax rates in the area and they have advertised for accounting services. Why would that be? It just may be that the community is looking to reduce long term costs for a particular service important to the Town.

Remember, the advertised impact on the Templeton tax rate for the new school was $1.74 per thousand to be able to make a yearly bond payment of roughly 1.4 million dollars. Yesterday, the office of the Board of Assessors told me that right now one dollar on the tax rate raises $622,843.00, so how can it be that $1.74 will raise 1.4 million dollars if $2.00 on the tax rate will now only raise roughly 1.2 million dollars. Again, the Town came in low to get the deal and again, may have to come back higher to follow through.

That should really help with any proposed override, (increase in the tax rate). Again, that $199,000.00 of free cash that apparently has been left to "hang out there" should have, in my opinion, been a subject of appropriation for the capital stabilization fund, then a new police cruiser and DPW truck could be purchased out right, as in a cash one time payment, without any need or worry about future lease payments. Perhaps not a concept workable in Templeton.