Letter: Tax relief fund can’t handle middle school cost increase

January 26, 2023

At last Thursday’s Special Town Meeting, debate was suspended after 35 minutes on Article 5, the middle school cost increases, leaving a number of us waiting (me for 14 minutes) at microphones. I had risen to correct statements by yes voters at Town Meeting and in their Vote Yes website that there is a $5 million fund to help struggling taxpayers with their real estate tax bills.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. 

I am chair of the Tax Relief Committee, which is in its seventeenth year of raising funds to help citizens with the costs of remaining in the town they love and have lived in for decades. Economic diversity is a value held dear in all our long range plans and, perhaps too late, has been considered  by the Finance Committee in setting its Sustainable Growth Rate, to “avoid burdening taxpayers beyond normal expectations of income growth or undermining the diversity of our population . . .” and “maintain [Concord’s] character, including economic diversity of residents.” Finance Committee Report for FY 2023, p 7.

There is roughly $200,000 in that relief fund, and we have been assisting about 70 families with quarterly payments of $325 towards their real estate taxes. The middle school project, just approved in Thursday’s STM vote and heading to the polls on Feb. 16, adds $1,157 to the median tax bill (median property after this year’s revaluation is $1,169,500). This increase dwarfs any tax relief our committee is able to fund, relying upon voluntary contributions from caring citizens.

 I know there are good hearted Yes voters out there who see the issue facing their elderly neighbors on fixed income, who are now facing decisions about leaving this town. It is not enough to say, “Well, they’ll be able to sell their house for more money now.” We are talking about people’s homes.

Please contribute what you can to address this hardship by sending a check, payable to the Town of Concord, P0 Box 535, Concord Ma, 01742, attention Shannon McAndrew, and note on the memo line “Tax Relief Fund.”

Virginia McIntyre

Simon Willard Road