By Carol Britton Meyer
The subject of a potential Proposition 2-1/2 override has become a recurring theme at recent town government meetings and on social media.
The annual property tax on the average assessed Hingham home value of $877,640 is $10,254. The allowed annual Proposition 2-1/2 increase adds an additional $256 a year, and a $1 million override would add a further $111 property tax increase, as an example.
By comparison, for a $100 million borrowing, the average property tax increase would be about $1,000 a year. That figure was floated during a recent town budget forecast update due to the town's high capacity for borrowing and the large number of capital projects under consideration. These include a potential public safety facility, expanded senior center, and Foster School renovation or new building, among others.
At recent meetings, a number of parents have advocated for an override to "fully fund" the schools.
While seeking an override is a long and involved process and requires both a Town Meeting and ballot box majority vote, some citizens say they are up to the task.
Selectmen Chair Mary Power said during a recent such discussion that Hingham "is not a community that does overrides all that often, and an override at any point in this community is a big deal, while in other communities you might expect one every couple of years."
Also to be considered is the fact that some Hingham residents -- including many on fixed low incomes -- couldn't afford to pay for an override -- which becomes part of the permanent tax base -- on top of regular Proposition 2-1/2 increases, and could be forced to leave town.
That's not to say an override isn't possible but "there are fundamental questions we would have to answer," Power said. "[Those advocating for an override would] need to [convince voters] that the money would be spent wisely," among other considerations.
That said, many parents, School Committee members, and others think an override is the way to go to provide more funding for the schools -- and possibly for other town projects.
In light of recent discussions, Power stated that the Selectmen are committed "to ensuring that all voices and different perspectives are both valued and respected" during further override conversations.
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