Dear Chelmsford Residents,
I have received a number of phone calls and emails about the proposed property tax increase. I wanted to take this opportunity to answer these questions and concerns in a forum viewable by as many people as possible. I am sure many people share the same concerns and I will try to answer those here.
Aren't taxes in Chelmsford “out of control” or “higher than other towns”?
In Chelmsford, taxes are increasing at a slower rate than taxes across the state as a whole. Taxes in Chelmsford are not higher than they are in comparable towns. In 2011 Money Magazine rated Chelmsford the 28th best small town to live in the Country.
That article can be viewed here: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2011/snapshots/CS2513135.html
In 2007 Chelmsford was voted 21st best place to live. http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/moneymag/0707/gallery.BPTL_top_100.moneymag/21.html
This is based on towns “that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community.” As of right now we are doing everything in our power to keep spending as low as possible without further cuts to public safety, infrastructure, and childhood education.
Why does the size of our government keep expanding?
Due to costs like health insurance, building materials, etc., the costs of running the town government typically increase faster than the 2.5% we are allowed to raise the tax levy. State aid makes up for some of this difference but in recent years it has not been enough. So in reality, the size of the government is staying the same or shrinking every year. The town is currently staffed 10% below the numbers from five years ago. We are constantly trying to do more with less.
What is the town doing to generate revenue and cut costs?
Chelmsford retired residents utilize the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit Program at a rate higher than almost all other communities. This provides tax relief for many seniors on a fixed income. The town is pursuing solar fields, health insurance reform, regionalization of services, an economic development commission, and a number of other measures to increase revenue and lower the residential taxes. This is a goal I have and it is a goal I believe everyone involved in the town government has.
I have heard some concern and I just wanted to note that my position as a Selectman is completely unpaid. My fellow Board members and I dedicate our time to the town, to improve the life of all residents, on a volunteer basis and we are happy to do so.
Taxes may seem high but they are not higher than they would be in any comparable town. I can assure all residents that we are doing everything possible to keep costs under control and provide the best possible service. You really do get more for your dollar in Chelmsford. Our students produce high performances on the MCAS and SAT’s and our teachers are not paid more than in other comparable towns. In fact, Chelmsford spends less money per student than almost all comparable towns.
If you have any particular ideas on how Chelmsford could save money or generate new revenue, I would greatly appreciate that input. Thank you to everyone who has shared their concerns and ideas with me. These are tough times for many people. If you need any particular assistance, please feel free to contact the Board of Selectmen or Town Manager and we will help you to the best of our ability.
For retirees on a fixed income I would suggest looking into the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit Program. You can follow this link to learn more. http://www.massresources.org/circuit-breaker-tax-credit.html
The Chelmsford Military Community Covenant is also available to provide certain assistance to military families and veterans.
Thank you again for sharing your questions/concerns and constructive input.