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Thread: $1 a Day? I'll Gladly Pay!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default $1 a Day? I'll Gladly Pay!

    Reading self proclaimed “myth buster” Alan Reiss’ letter in the April 6 Wayland Town Crier made my head hurt. By presenting a series of dependent assertions followed by a list of selective 12-month data points about other towns, Mr. Reiss concludes, among many other things, that if Wayland doesn’t pass an override, its real estate values will increase as a direct result!

    Frankly, if I were still teaching in the MBA program at one of the business schools in Boston, I’d give an argument like Mr. Reiss’ a “C” for creativity, an “E” for effort, but an “I” for incomplete analysis and an “F” for faulty logic.

    I’d also like to know: What happens to real estate values when overrides pass and taxes increase? What other factors affect real estate values (interest rates, housing inventory, job market, economy, etc.), and which have the strongest correlation? What does the data show over 3 to 5 year or longer periods after an override vote passes or fails, or after a series of tax increases, or after other highly correlated factors kick in? And, what does the data look like for Wayland, the town in question?

    Rather being a myth buster, Mr. Reiss’ argument unfortunately doesn’t pass muster without answering these and other questions.

    Two analyses that appeared in the Wayland School Committee’s February 2006 budget presentation (http://www.waylandschoolcommittee.or...dget-forum.pdf pages 42 and 43) conclude that:

    • A statistically significant correlation exists between increased school spending and increased real estate values. Twelve studies are cited.
    • Between 1989 and 2003, the average Wayland home’s assessed value grew 10 times the amount of all additional property taxes paid from tax increases, doubling in value.

    I personally find comprehensive, long term and Wayland-specific analyses like these compelling but not without holes in their analysis. However, I’m not going to try to lead you into the same trap as Mr. Reiss with self supporting, selective data.

    The truth is that there are strong feelings for and against an override. As discerning Waylanders, we should not be swayed by incomplete or faulty analysis and assertions, no matter how well intentioned. We should look at this sensibly and in a way that brings us together as a town.

    Simply stated, when the state reduced our income taxes, towns like Wayland received less aid. If we are to maintain our quality of services in the midst of what looks to me (and to rating agencies) to be a pretty well managed set of town finances, we’ve got to make up for state tax reductions with city-based property tax increases. Looking at the tax and spending levels of other towns in our area suggests that we aren’t doing things much differently than many of them. In most cases, Wayland is dealing with these fiscal challenges a lot better than other towns are.

    Studies and data points aside, my common sense tells me that you still don’t get something for nothing in this world. Higher valuations with less town services and weaker schools? It doesn’t sound logical. Voting for the override amounts to about $1 a day in increased taxes on the average home in Wayland. I’ll gladly pay this to maintain the high quality of Wayland’s services and likely, the high value of our homes as well.

    Steve Goldstein
    Highland Circle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Default One dollar a day seems well worth it!

    I am with you. I can afford a dollar a day to provide the schools with a bit of what they need. Ask your favorite realtor what the first question is about any town when young people look for homes to buy. It is always about the schools. My children are out of school next year and I will gladly pay to support Wayland's education.


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