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

Voters refer back trash article Thursday, October 9, 2003
Craig MacCormack Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- Sponsors of an article that would have given homeowners a tax break if a townwide trash fee were implemented were stunned last night when Town Meeting voted, 70-47, to refer the measure back to its sponsor.

Steve Kruger, spokesman for the Framingham Taxpayers Association, said the fledgling group's effort was killed because of misinformation profferred by several speakers opposed to the idea.

"People who didn't participate at all in any of the meetings raised many objections, most of which were without merit," Kruger said.  "It seems clear they didn't trust the voters to spend their money the way they wanted to."

The FTA wanted Town Meeting to back the citizen petition to give the amount collected from a proposed townwide trash fee back to taxpayers through lower annual bills.

The article said creating a townwide trash fee for regular pickups should be in the hands of voters through a Proposition 2 1/2 override and not something put in place by selectmen.

If pay-as-you-throw trash collection brings in $2 million, that should mean a $2 million drop in property taxes, Kruger argued.  Selectmen voted, 3-2, to take no action, while the Board of Public Works was unanimously against it.

Patrick Dunne of Precinct 9 suggested referring the article back to its sponsor, saying, "There are many questions unanswered.  I sense there's more behind this.  It seems like a poison pill to me."

Kruger disagreed with that assessment.

"I support recycling, but I'm also a pragmatist," he said.  "If we're going to recycle, the test should be if it saves us money.  We shouldn't need a fee to create more revenue.  The program should be paid for from reduced costs.

"Why should we spend $50,000 to save $25,000?" he asked.

Precinct 1 member Kathy Vassar said the idea of a townwide trash fee is part of "the trend of starting to charge fees for things that have always been provided."

Town Manager George King noted that businesses would benefit most from the FTA proposal because they pay about $1.5 million in property taxes that would be eliminated with the bylaw's implementation and put on residents' backs.

Former town official John Kahn said the proposed bylaw would benefit people with bigger homes because the property tax savings would come from assessed value.

"It will tie the hands of future Town Meetings," said Kahn.  "Spending priorities may change, and each Town Meeting has to deal with its own issues.  Why make a trash fee any different than one for school buses or athletics?"

Kahn encouraged selectmen and King "to step up to the plate," one of several baseball references made throughout the session.

FTA member Doug Freeman said Kahn was trying to "undercut the proposal."

"It's up to the people of Framingham whether they should increase their taxes," he said.  "The taxpayers have already said they value trash collection and are paying for it.

"The Board of Selectmen took no action because they want to keep the money.  We don't want them to be the ones to make that decision," said Freeman.

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