Formed to show that the extra tax increase requested on May 3, 2016 was unnecessary, the Committee for Financial Responsibility in Lexington will continue to advocate that the town must do the following 5 critical things before requesting another extra tax increase (expected in spring 2017):

--• (1) create 5-, 10- and 20-year forecasts of Lexington’s operating and capital budgets, based on robust school enrollment projections.

--• (2) eliminate partly “empty” classrooms in our 6 elementary schools, to save about $1.5 million each year.

--• (3) raise all employee salaries and reduce the Town's 82% contribution to employee health premiums to 50% (as in Concord) to keep our employees’ total compensation intact and save the town $2.3 million each year.

--• (4) implement a residential exemption to cut taxes on small homes (where seniors and people on limited incomes tend to live) and raise taxes on houses worth $1,000,000 or more (representing 28% of all Lexington homes, twice as many as 6 years ago), to help make the town more diverse and affordable.

--• (5) eliminate the multi-million dollar under-assessments of large commercial properties which result in unwarranted tax breaks for those properties; the resulting tax shift will reduce taxes on residents and provide the Town with a few million dollars in new tax revenues each year.

Please contact us with your comments, questions or to join our efforts.

Below are the results of the May 3, 2016 debt exclusion.

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Results of the May 3, 2016 vote (highlighted in yellow, compared with past votes):
results


News:
From campaign finance reports filed at Town Hall, the funding for the YES campaign is $15,192 (from donors listed here), and for this NO campaign, $18.

TV debate: Watch here on your computer a 45-minute debate between the NO and YES campaigns. You can also watch the debate on cable TV at these times.

Our response to a piece by the Board of Selectmen in the Lexington Minuteman is here.


On May 3rd, the Town will ask voters to
approve an extra tax increase to fund $71 million worth of school construction and improvements to accommodate rising school enrollments that were not predicted.

Technically, voters will be asked on May 3rd to
approve a “debt exclusion”.

A “debt exclusion” is an authorization for the Town to:

--------(1) borrow an extra $71 million to pay for school projects the YES campaign describes

----AND

--------(2) exclude its annual reimbursement costs from the Prop 2 1/2 limits on annual tax increases, which means an extra tax increase for all Lexington taxpayers over and beyond Prop 2 1/2.

If YES wins on May 3rd, a Lexington house of median value (assessed at $786,000) will pay $230-$310 more in taxes each year ($13,075 instead of $12,847 in FY2020), an extra increase of about 2% (per these calculations based on data provided by the Town).

Voters should realize that
debt exclusions and operating overrides passed since 1989 have added a +2.5% increase each year beyond the Prop 2 1/2 limit (itself +2.5%) on a “typical” Lexington house’s taxes: the taxes on a “typical” Lexington house rose by +5.1% on average each year during the past 26 years, making Lexington more and more expensive and less economically diverse. Since 2005, Lexington’s taxes have risen from 13th highest in Massachusetts to 8th highest now:

Lex blue curve slide

We support great schools and municipal services in Lexington, but we urge you to vote NO on May 3rd because the Town should save money and reduce the tax burden on our seniors and on the more financially vulnerable among us BEFORE it asks all taxpayers to pay more in taxes.

Lexington can
save money by:

--• eliminating in-town school districts, to avoid partly “empty” classrooms in our six elementary schools; this would save about $1.5 million each year.

--raising all employees’ salaries and reducing the Town's 85% contribution to our employees’ health premiums to 50% (like in Concord); this would keep our employees’ total compensation intact and save the Town $2.3 million each year.

Lexington can
raise more money and reduce the tax burden on residential taxpayers by:

--eliminating the multi-million dollar under-assessments of large office buildings and laboratories which give those commercial property owners unwarranted tax breaks; the resulting tax shift would reduce taxes on residential taxpayers and provide the Town with a few million dollars in new tax revenues each year.

--implementing a residential exemption to cut taxes on small homes (more likely to be owned by seniors and people with limited incomes) and raise them on larger houses, including the $1,500,000+ houses that are now so often built across Lexington, making our Town less diverse and less affordable.

These measures have NOT yet been implemented. These measures would generate enough savings and new revenues to fund $71 million in new borrowing — and more: the May 3rd debt exclusion is therefore NOT necessary and should be rejected. Instead, the Selectmen and the School Committee should undertake these money saving, new revenue and tax fairness measures, and use the resulting funds to invest in school and municipal construction projects (adding to
$26 million already saved since 2013 in our Capital Stabilization Fund).

VOTE NO on May 3rd to tell the Selectmen and the School Committee that they must manage our Town finances more responsibly to keep Lexington diverse and affordable.