Proposed Stormwater Enterprise Just Doesn’t Hold Water


Letter to the Editor iconWhile many would agree it’s important for Westborough to maintain its stormwater infrastructure, the creation of an Enterprise Fund, to be discussed at the March 25, 2023, Town Meeting, should be of great concern to many residents, especially for our senior citizens on fixed incomes.

This separate ”Authority” is proposed to be incorporated within the Department of Public Works. It would have the power, under the purview of the Select Board, to set its own annual fee schedule, separate and in addition to the tax bill. This Enterprising of the Storm Water System would result in an annual assessment for every taxpayer in addition to what is currently billed for in real estate taxes.

Although the town proposes to transfer the existing budget to the Enterprise, that amount is $87,000. The town’s Website also shows some of the work needed to be funded by this new Enterprise. It’s difficult to believe that this relatively small amount can cover much of the cost for the maintenance of the Storm Water System.

Last November, the town voted to approve funding the Community Preservation Act (CPA), which raises money from Westborough taxpayers with a surcharge on their property tax bill.

Now, we are being asked to support the establishment of a separate Enterprise for the purpose of funding the Storm Water Maintenance System. Both are a way for the town to avoid the restrictions on annual tax increase limits required by Proposition 2 1 / 2 . If approved, the town can invoice taxpayers for these separate entities, which are not included in the tax levy, while simultaneously increasing real estate taxes within the structure of Prop. 2 1/2.

Without a clear understanding of the budgetary needs for this Enterprise over the next five-plus years, and a commensurate dollar-for-dollar reduction in the tax levy, Westborough taxpayers are essentially handing the town a potential windfall in tax revenue.

At a time when many of us are struggling financially, the town should proceed with extreme caution to address the Storm Water Maintenance issue before heading at full speed into unchartered waters.

Wayne Webster

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