Tomorrow I will be voting for senior tax relief at our special town election. I believe this is a step forward to helping solve our structural deficit issues in town. Unfortunately, today I also received a flyer advertising the availability of 40B housing units in Sudbury. So on one hand a citizen petition before town meeting will hopefully result in senior tax relief to keep seniors in town. But on the other hand, two of our selectmen, the Sudbury Housing Trust and our planning department have fought to keep 40B as a law in the state, resulting in high density housing that could effectively cancel out our senior tax relief efforts.
First, we should enact senior tax relief. The proposed law is not perfect. But if those of us with school age children look at this purely selfishly, anything that slows or reverses the growth of students in our schools is a good thing. The high percentage of Sudbury households that have students in the schools is a blessing, but also one of the causes of our structural deficit. The property tax income from one house does not cover the education costs for the children in the house.
While keeping seniors in town is one way to offset this structural deficit, it is not the silver bullet. Unfortunately, one does not exist. We need to keep pushing for health insurance and pension reform, scrutiny over all town hiring, consolidation of our school administrations, preservation of open space, and a more equitable regional school agreement with Lincoln. Senior tax relief is a step in the right direction. The law as written expires in three years so provides a useful experiment.
Similar to our push for senior tax relief, we need to push to end the 40B affordable housing law that enables developers to build high density housing in Sudbury. The impact of this law is very visible in the developments now taking shape along route 20. One bedroom units will probably not generate children in our schools. Two bedroom units? Three bedroom units? You decide. You can see the attached flyer from our housing office advertising homes and two/three bedroom units.
The unfortunate aspect to all this, is not the affordable housing aspect. But that for every affordable unit at Landham crossing, there are three market rate units built in a high density development that include two and three bedroom units. Had standard Sudbury zoning been followed, this level of development would not be permitted.
It is time to support senior tax relief. It is also time to tell the selectmen and state representatives that while we are willing to pay higher taxes to keep seniors in town, we are not willing to open Sudbury to high density housing that negates our senior tax relief efforts.