Yesterday’s Questions: My Taxes and the District

Yesterday’s questions came from a caller and neighbor in Area 3 I haven’t talked to since the summer. (Winter hibernation!)

She asked:

Q: If I chooses to support the Manchaug Pond Watershed District, where will my tax money go? The town general fund? Will I get a separate bill? How much will I have to pay?

A: All tax money assessed for the District will go to the District. You will be billed by the town on your property tax bill (quarterly in Douglas and semi-annually in Sutton) with the amount for the District appearing as a separate line item. The amount you are taxed will depend on two things: first, the budget you and other members vote on at the District’s Annual Meeting the year before and secondly, the assessed value of your property which is determined by the Town. This makes for a proportionally fair assessment.

The MPA has proposed a first year budget of $8,000 based on the expenses of other Massachusetts watershed districts and state requirements for municipalities. This would include a bond for the treasurer, audit, mailing costs for the annual meeting warrant, and a stabilization fund, and perhaps but may not be needed, attorney fees and town fees reimbursing the tax collector’s office for services in the collection of your money. Given the average home is valued at $350,000. you are looking at an $82. tax for the year spread out in 2 or 4 payments depending on your town. The town would then cut the District a check for the amount collected.

Q. I was told the District would be required to hire a full time engineer and a full time caretaker for the dam. Is that true?

A. No, there will be no paid employees of the District. The day to day functions of the District will be carried out by the District Clerk (elected yearly), the Treasurer (elected yearly), and a Management Committee of three individuals (elected, staggered three year terms): all are volunteers and all elected and property owners in the District.

Currently, the dam’s ownership is still with Interface Fabrics Group. The Manchaug Pond Watershed District is being modeled after successful, experienced Massachusetts’ Districts formed in the 1990’s, who have helped us develop/project a realistic budget. These Districts do own and control their dam and use the volunteer staff for daily monitoring and adjusting of the water level and many of the maintenance needs such as mowing, brush cutting, etc of the dam. With Manchaug Pond’s dam, every other year the services of an engineering firm would need to be contracted for the state required dam safety inspections – this is not a full time position.