Blame The Planning Board For Your Increased Tax Bill

The reason for Framingham's tax increase.

Framingham’s latest residential property tax bills have people fuming and pointing fingers at various parties they feel are to blame for the dramatic $562 tax increase for the average homeowner. 

While residential tax bills increased dramatically, commercial property assessments dropped an average of 6%, creating a 10% shift in assessment burden this year.

Fingers have been pointed in many directions.  However the situation we find ourselves in has most fundamentally been caused by the Framingham Planning Board.

For the better part of a decade the majority of this board has worked to make the permitting process unnecessarily difficult, expensive and frustrating for anyone who wanted to re-develop, improve or expand the value of real property in Framingham. Without improvements, upgrades or new construction, much of our tax base has decayed and depreciated in value.  Hence we have a town riddled with empty properties and abandoned shopping centers.

A Planning Board whose majority has discouraged development of almost any kind is the major reason for the drop in commercial property assessments which has required homeowners to fund the resulting revenue shortfall.  Since the latest tax bills went out a great deal of discussion has focused on the accuracy of some assessments, spending levels, conflicts of interest of government officials and other issues.  Arching over these concerns is one undisputable economic fact:  when companies don’t want to do business in a community, the value of commercial property in that community drops.

The Planning Board needlessly drags applicants, their attorneys, engineers and architects being paid hundreds of dollars an hour through multiple hearings discussing irrelevant minutia that is often based on the personal tastes and  agendas of individual members regarding colors and types of plant species. 

The time, money and dignity that applicants have to sacrifice before finally getting a project that was actually pretty good in the first place, approved after months of foot dragging by this board has given us an awful reputation among real estate and building professionals across New England.  The word on the street is, ‘don’t do business in Framingham if you can avoid it. 

If this trend doesn’t stop NOW the quality of life for all of us who live here is going to suffer even more.  When a community begins an economic slide like we have, without intervention, the velocity of the slide will only accelerate.  Perhaps in the next property re-evaluation residential property taxes will go up even more.  That’s not something we should be willing to wait to find out. 

There is a write-in seat open on the Planning Board in the April 3rd town election.  Whoever receives the most votes for this particular seat could determine the future of this community.

Please pay attention and educate yourself on the issues in this race.  This is the most powerful position in Framingham at the moment.  We need the greatest voter participation possible to ensure that the results we get are what the majority of our community really wants and needs.

Copyright ©2012 Cheryl Tully Stoll





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Derek from Framingham March 28, 2012 at 04:05 PM
As other writers have mentioned, Stoll can't blame the entire tax problem on the Planning Board. But that is not to say she is wrong either. The Planning Board and the 'anti-business' image that seems to be projected from them are causing some businesses to really ponder whether they want to do or continue to do business in Framingham. A frequent joke heard about the Planning Board is "Hey applicant the problem isn't the plans -- its the plants." The blame for the tax problem is shared by a number of groups (many of which have already been named) - but to fix it we will need to tackle it from a number of different angles. One being getting rid of the anti-business image that the Planning Board projects - which can possibly be fixed with new blood - and one with a fresh perspective. This is what makes the Planning Board race interesting this year. There is a candidate with a relevant work resume who has not been part of the 'old guard' - this could be just the perspective we need today - because it is clear we don't need more of the same old routine.
Guy Angevine March 28, 2012 at 04:14 PM
So on the one hand she's too new and hasn't been in town government. And on the other, she's part of the Democratic gang. I think the Rizoli boys need to compare notes. I think we all agree that there has been a problem encouraging new businesses to locate in Framingham. And there's also a problem keeping existing businesses here. Is calling on a 75-year old gentleman who's been in town government for 20 or 30 years really going to change all that? If you've been following the news, you'll see that Framingham's largest employer just purchased a large campus in a neighboring town. We can not afford not to rock the boat right now. The status quo is not working.
Jim Rizoli March 28, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Too many people running the town are running it into the ground! Not the best way to do it, unless you want to bulldoze the whole downtown and start over. Not a bad idea in theory....Start over and do it right. From the buildings, to who will occupy them. Right now it's a hodgepodge of everyone doing what they feel is right for themselves, and it looks that way. Jim@ccfiile.com
Heidi Zizza March 28, 2012 at 06:03 PM
As a realtor I could go on and on about this issue. I also live in Framingham and my tax bill has increased almost $3,000 in 8 years! The planning board has aproved some lovely projects and needlessley turned down others and I am sure there are many arguments on both sides of the coin. I don't like to air my political view but I do think some new "blood" is needed. I hope that whoever fills the seat does a great job and treats people fairly and with appreciation for trying!
Rich A April 15, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Personally, I doubt very much that the huge tax increases are any one group's fault. Economics tend to be complicated in terms of both causes and effects. I've lived in Framingham for nearly eight years now, and here's what I do know: - my taxes have gone up every year; - the assessed value of my home has gone down every year; - the school my son attends is not providing the support he needs; - in the winter, I have to shovel half the road because the plows do not clear the street, even days after a storm has ended; - people routinely drive 50-70 mph along my road (Dennison Ave) because there are never police around to monitor the area. I'd be less interested in finger-pointing and more interested in a town government that has an interest in helping its taxpaying residents. Rich A.


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