standing letters

In the last 10 years, from 2008 to 2018, Hopkinton’s tax mil rate went from 19.38 to 20.07 — a 63-cent raise over a decade. In 2019, we had to increase the mil rate to 20.80 — 73 cents in only one year. This is expected to continue with the addition of Land Trust bonds, road and infrastructure bonds, equipment and pay raises.

With the consistent addition of children to our very good school system and lovely, quiet town, some of us on the council are attempting to stabilize the tax rate, not lower it. We would love to do that, but it is not possible without a substantial and sustainable tax base commercially.

Six-hundred acres of solar arrays would give us 300 megawatts of electricity at $1.5 million a year plus the greater assessed underlying property tax. We have 30,000 acres of farmland, forest, water bodies, cemeteries, vacant land and permanently protected open space. Two percent of our available land will give us over $2 million a year to stabilize our mil rate. It finally gives us a commercial base without homes, blacktop, parking lots or multi-story businesses that can improve its own productivity and increase our taxable base with the increase of solar capacity on the same footprint in the future.

There is no lie here. It’s simple math.

Barbara Capalbo


The writer is a member of the town council in Hopkinton.

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(1) comment


One cannot argue with Ms. Capalbo's facts. And her math is also correct. One might however, take her to task for some of her underlying assumptions or errors of reasoning. THESE suggest that the math is not as simple as she asserts.
For example on the one hand she cites "the consistent addition of children" (students) while later suggesting that " (solar) gives us a base without homes,..." ...etc....Well just where will these additional children live, if not in homes that presumably do not exist now? And would not these new homes add to the tax base? Another factor that was not addressed by her "simple math" is that of the source and cause of rising expenditures/costs. Some suggest that over regulation is one source of rising costs to individuals and cities. For an overview see the New York times:
and The Economist:

While the town council cannot stem this particular tide, I caution Ms Capalbo on her ASSUMPTION that commercial development will "stabilize" our tax rate. Her underlying premise is just wrong! Regulation "creep" will continue bringing rising costs (the most likely source of the specific increases her article cites). Ms Capalbo's "simple math" hides a complex issue that is not really resolved by destruction of our landscape. To those, like me, on fixed income, $1.5M seems like a HUGE amount of money. But the "devil in the details" , $29.43 per person per year, the faulty assumptions I noted above and the more probable LOSS of taxable base not increase as she stated, continues to argue against chasing the non-existent pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. In sum, I take Ms, Capalbo's "simple math" as a justification for her, seemingly entrenched, position. Her facts do not make a persuasive case that her intended goal of stabilizing the tax rate is achievable by the proposed scheme. I repeat, her math is not what is wrong. It is her erroneous assumptions/predictions about the cost driving factors and future events that WILL occur similar to those that occurred in our past.
As writer and philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

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