Every tax is a pay cut.  Every tax cut is a pay raise.
Citizens for Limited Taxation

New town group hopes for lower annual bills Monday, October 6, 2003
Craig MacCormack Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- Members of a new town group opposed to higher taxes hope Town Meeting will vote tomorrow to give the amount collected from a proposed townwide trash fee back to taxpayers through lower annual bills.

A petition from the Framingham Taxpayers Association says the creation of a trash fee for regular pickups should be in the hands of voters, not a move triggered by selectmen as a money-making endeavor.  "Without Article 12, the establishment of a fee for trash in Framingham would represent an assault on Proposition 2 1/2," said FTA spokesman Steve Kruger, referring to the state mechanism that caps annual tax hikes.

The town hasn't had a trash fee since 1980, said Kruger, except for special collections and hazardous waste.  If pay-as-you-throw trash collection brings in $2 million townwide, that should mean a $2 million overall drop in property taxes, said Kruger, one of several hundred signers of the petition article.

"When you introduce a fee for something that's been in that bundle of services for years, it's equivalent to an override," he said.  "The question for people to ponder and decide is who should have the authority.  "We don't want the imposition of a fee to pay for this.  We want it to be revenue-neutral for taxpayers.  I think the logic is pretty straightforward," he said.

Selectmen voted, 3-2, to take no action on the article, while the Board of Public Works is unanimously against it.  Support comes from the Ways and Means Committee, Finance Committee, Government Study Committee and Standing Committee on Public Works.

"Selectmen took an important stance by taking no action," said Kruger.  "They understand both sides of the argument and see enough merit to listen to what Town Meeting is going to do."

"We'll have to wait and see, but the indications at this point are pretty favorable," he said.

A townwide initiative that would charge all residents with town trash pickup for having more than one bag of refuse each week is on hold until at least next July because most of the logistics are still being discussed.

The recommendation to delay the program came from the Board of Public Works.  Also still to be determined are most of the regulations for the effort, including how to distribute bags and stickers and the charges for residents.

"It's a concept we're debating, not a specific program," said Town Manager George King.  "I understand why people don't want to pay more money or don't think they can, but it may not be wise to introduce this article now.

"Whatever happens, we'll deal with it," said King.

Kruger sees the timing as appropriate, he said, saying the FTA is "trying to be forward-looking" by avoiding "an awkward, messy budget dilemma" that would result from pushing the initiative after a trash fee is implemented. 

"If the selectmen establish a fee and do it for revenue enhancement, they could then build the budget around that," said Kruger.  "If Article 12 wasn't passed before that, we'd have to undo the budget to get it started."

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