The timing of the Finance Committee’s public hearing last week on the recent property revaluations that resulted in significantly higher tax bills for some property owners was curious, to say the least, as it came the day after the deadline to file an abatement had come and gone the day before.
Still, while the hearing may have initially seemed like a chance for people to just vent their anger, the ideas discussed, as well as letting some qualifying residents know they may have more options available to them than they may have thought, could lead to actual and positive change.
Will the residential exemption be increased? If so, who will feel the burden from the shift? Can budget cuts be made so the city does not need to collect as much from property owners? Well, there is now more of an incentive for residents to see what is being spent where.
The public is being asked to take part in community budgeting forums. They will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24 (snow date March 6), at the Capuano Early Childhood Center, 150 Glen St.; Thursday, Feb. 27, at the West Somerville Neighborhood School, 177 Powderhouse Blvd.; and 11 a.m. Saturday, March 1 (snow date March 8) at City Hall, 93 Highland Ave.
As the city moves towards trying to make the assessment process more visible to avoid future sticker shock, this is the time for residents to take advantage of the offer to get involved before the budget is passed so they do not have to come out to a packed meeting in the future and after the fact.
Sure, we elect people to handle these issues, but it doesn’t hurt – as last week’s meeting showed – to let them know that some of us want to understand (and even have a hand in) the process and not just react to the results.