To the Editor:
On 3 June Shrewsbury residents will cast their vote to either accept or reject the Proposition 2-1/2 override. Voters should consider the following items before making their decision.
This override is actually a nonspecific authorization for a PERMANENT general increase in the total Shrewsbury tax levy. The override itself is NOT legally tied to the schools or any other specific use or purpose. This means:
1. If the $5.5M override is approved for this year (2015) it can – and most likely will – grow by as much as 2.5% each and every year thereafter (e.g., $5.5M for 2015, $5.63M for 2016, $5.77M for 2017, $5.92M, and so on). Beginning in 2005 Shrewsbury has routinely increased the annual tax levy each and every year by 2.5% (the legally allowed maximum).
2. In future years this ever increasing tax levy will be allocated in ANY fashion that the Town Meeting decides. There is no legal obligation or guarantee that the schools will continue to get any specific amount or any specific part of this ever increasing levy.
The $5.5M override that is now before us has been presented as an effort to improve the Shrewsbury schools. In fact. the Town Meeting tentatively allocated $1.3M (23%) of this 2015 amount for other municipal services including Public Buildings, Police, and Highway. The remaining $4.2M (77%) was tentatively allocated for the schools to cover a variety of items including increased staffing, health insurance, general insurance, Medicare, etc. Subsequent year allocations of this ever increasing tax levy may be made in any fashion and for any purpose the Town Meeting deems appropriate. The schools have no continuing claim on these funds,
Approval of this particular? override will immediately add $1.15 per thousand to the current Shrewsbury property tax rate. This translates to an immediate property tax increase of about $400/yr for the average homeowner. This $400 will be in addition to routine annual increases (up to a 2.5% maximum) in the original annual tax levy, and also in addition to the future tax increase resulting from the prior override for the library (about $100/yr for the average homeowner).
Think carefully before you vote!