HOPKINTON - Following a public hearing in which only one member of the public spoke, the town board voted unanimously to override the states 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 dont 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 wasnt the case.
We are allowed to do this, he said. We just want to be ahead of the curve. We dont know if theyre going to change anything.
By giving the town permission to override the tax cap, Mr. Rust said theyre being proactive heading into this years budget process.
We didnt want to wait like we did last year when the state at the last minute said, That might be what we said, but its not what we meant.
Mr. Rust also said just because they can exceed the cap doesnt mean they will.
This doesnt mean were going to spend like wild (men), he said. This is just a safety net.
Town Clerk Vickie L. French, who also serves as the towns budget officer, agreed.
Were going to work very hard to be at 2 percent or less, she said. Were hoping for the tax rate to drop.
Given the revaluation completed in Hopkinton this year, Mr. Eakins said that should be the case.
If youre budget goes over 2 percent ,theres something wrong.
According to Mr. Rust the revaluation increased the towns 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. Thats good. Thats 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.