After the third public hearing in so many weeks on the potential purchase of land off Southold Road, the Board of Selectmen voted last night to recommend passage of the article at next week’s Special Town Meeting. Selectmen Doreen Goodrich, Ken Holstrom, Steve Simonian and Denise Brotherton voted for the motion while Dan Carpenter abstained.
Every speaker supported the $2.865 million purchase, which has been effectively reduced to $1.865 through a $1 million gift offered by an anonymous donor under the condition that the property be kept as open space with no development. Auburn CFO Ed Kazanovicz detailed several finance options, and town meeting will have to pick one on Tuesday if they approve the land purchase.
The Board also voted to keep the residential/commercial tax rate split at 1.22, the same as last year. The tax classification determines what percentage of the total property tax burden will be carried by residents versus businesses. While tax bills will still increase, the tax burden to residents will not increase as much as it has in previous years when the Town was moving towards a single tax rate for residential and commercial/industrial properties.
Auburn has had a dual tax rate since 1986. The Board of Selectman, at the urging of Auburn business leaders, has been steadily reducing the difference between what businesses and residents pay. For this fiscal year, the rate for homeowners is $17.29, and for businesses is $23.38 per $1,000 in real estate value.