By Seth Stutman
Northborough – In a brief meeting, the Northborough Board of Selectmen discussed a bevy of issues and congratulated a number of people and charities for their hard work. They also approved gas storage and considered the single tax rate issue.
The board first considered an application from BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. for an on-site, underground storage unit that would hold 60,000 gallons of gasoline and above-ground storage for 300 gallons of diesel fuel for the location at 1106 Shops Way in Northborough. At Northborough Crossing, the unit will be open to BJ’s members only and, as of now, will not be open 24 hours.
There will be multiple safeguards to protect neighboring well water with multiple detection and containment devices, including fiberglass, double-walled tanks. This “tank within a tank” will also be monitored by the state and with BJ’s emergency services center.
The motion was passed with full support by the board and various other departments. “We are very excited about this project moving forward,” Board Chair Dawn Rand said.
Diane O’Connor from the Board of Assessors gave a presentation on tax policies for the coming fiscal year.
“The best part [of the presentation] is putting all the numbers together and having you see what’s happened throughout the year and all the activity and growth,” she said, “but also to be able to make an informed decision as to whether to have a single tax rate or a split rate.”
In the fiscal year 2010, the overall value of Northborough decreased $49.8 million, from $2.478 billion to $2.429 billion. However, while home values decreased, new growth totaled over $67 million. Of the $44 million in residential growth, $29 million is from Avalon Bay and the town will be seeing new growth every year due to Northborough Crossing.
Northborough has seen a decrease in community value since 2007, yet has received more than $171 million in new growth that gave the town more than $2 million in new taxes.
“This community is fortunate to have stable and continued growth,” O’Connor said.
With home values going down, so do taxes – there was a 7.46 percent decrease in sold home prices and assessed residential values is down by 8.52 percent.
Vice Chair Jeff Amberson agreed with the sentiments of the board in keeping a single tax rate.
“One of the reasons that we have been successful in getting commercial entities like Avalon Bay, the Loop, Genzyme, etc., is because we have the single tax rate,” he said, “when you look at what a split rate would mean, it equates to a major shift in commercial [tax rates].”
The board agreed to maintain a single tax rate that will be officially voted on at a later date after the state’s preliminary certification of values. The board also voted against a residential tax exemption and a small commercial exception.
Among selectmen comments, Clerk Leslie Rutan advocated the Winter Coat Drive sponsored by the Northborough Helping Hands Association and the Moms and Tots Organization. Moreover, after a visit to the Northborough Food Pantry, Rutan was complimentary of the work of volunteers and food donors.