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Hopkinton town board unanimously overrides tax cap

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HOPKINTON - Following a public hearing in which only one member of the public spoke, the town board voted unanimously to override the state’s 2 percent tax cap law as they begin work on their 2013 spending plan.

Richard Eakins made it clear to the board that he was not in favor of the move.

“I oppose it very strongly,” he said. “You want to override it so you don’t have to do your job.”

Town Supervisor Marvin E. Rust said he was advocating for the change as an insurance policy for the board in case the rules surrounding the cap changed again.

“Last year the state had a set of rules we had to follow. We followed them to a T then at the last minute they changed them,” he said.

Mr. Eakins said if the town could change that law what was to stop them from changing others.

“If you can get rid of this one, why not get rid of them all,” he said, referring to the law.

Mr. Rust said that wasn’t the case.

“We are allowed to do this,” he said. “We just want to be ahead of the curve. We don’t know if they’re going to change anything.”

By giving the town permission to override the tax cap, Mr. Rust said they’re being proactive heading into this year’s budget process.

“We didn’t want to wait like we did last year when the state at the last minute said, ‘That might be what we said, but it’s not what we meant.’”

Mr. Rust also said just because they can exceed the cap doesn’t mean they will.

“This doesn’t mean we’re going to spend like wild (men),” he said. “This is just a safety net.”

Town Clerk Vickie L. French, who also serves as the town’s budget officer, agreed.

“We’re going to work very hard to be at 2 percent or less,” she said. “We’re hoping for the tax rate to drop.”

Given the revaluation completed in Hopkinton this year, Mr. Eakins said that should be the case.

“If you’re budget goes over 2 percent ,there’s something wrong.”

According to Mr. Rust the revaluation increased the town’s assessment by $34 million, bringing their equalization rate up from 72.8 percent to 100 percent.

“We are at a 100 percent equalization rate,” he said. “That’s good. That’s very good.”

Following the public hearing, Deputy Supervisor Susan Wood made a motion to adopt the new law, but she did so “with the intention we do not plan on overriding it.”

The motion was seconded by Gilbert Sochia and unanimously approved.

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