I realize this is often infuriating to many, but energy generation is not frozen in stasis. Our world is a pattern of increasing complexity where we live in an ever-expanding network of dependencies, biologically and technologically. Our jobs are to create efficient interconnections between nature’s gifts and the human need for electrical supply. For Hopkinton, it is also essential that we have tax revenue sources which function as a tax base ameliorating our family and business property taxes.
Frank Landolfi, Sylvia Thompson, Tom Buck and I have been well aware of our tax plight for over 10 years and have consistently kept tax hikes under 2 percent yearly. In the process, we have also rebuilt Hopkinton’s fund balance from scratch. Unfortunately, low tax rates, without a broad tax base, are not sustainable going forward.
85% of our total acreage in Hopkinton is in forest, farmland, rivers, ponds and fully protected environmental lands. This is over 30,000 acres — generally untaxable or with greatly reduced taxes in farm, forest and open space. The town of Hopkinton’s total acreage is 36,200 acres.
Mr. Bibler, his group and I have a differing opinion of the best path forward. For me, it is not the forest, saving the owls and rural perfection — we have that in spades. It is the ability to shelter warm, safe homes, good families that feel secure and care for their neighbors, quiet neighborhoods, little crime, excellent schools, and a clean, pleasant and welcoming town. Hopkinton, therefore, is, and will remain, a magnet for children and families.
I am sorry if I appeared “enraged” by Mr. Bibler at the Brushy Brook vote. I certainly was frustrated and truly troubled that many of the citizens present were totally unconcerned with raising taxes on less wealthy and stressed families, widows and fixed-income retirees as well as those struggling to make ends meet for their young families. They criticize me because, with the addition of the Brushy Brook project tax revenue of $358,000 per year, I negotiated further benefits to the town of $180,000 per year for 20 years (full municipal electric bill, land trust and nonprofits); plus an additional $400,000 (town hall, 1904 building) from this one project for Hopkinton’s benefit. A 400-foot increase in the Dye Hill Road buffer, a 58.8-acre easement for the Land Trust and another property with development rights bought to replace the trees removed. These negotiations were in open and public session with video cameras and a court stenographer. Oh, and 15 of the 21 abutters were pro-solar. Three members of the present council voted this project down — 175 acres out of 25,200 acres of forest was just too much to allow.
I will continue to serve the best interests of all citizens in Hopkinton, without Mr. Bibler’s permission, in public or, when necessary, in private.
The writer is a Hopkinton Town Council member.