Tax increase causes woe in Greenville

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Residents across Greenville experienced sticker shock this month when they opened their tax bills and saw a big hike. Among them was Jennifer Gould, who said the increase is so bad that her family won’t be able to afford to keep living in town. 

The 2017 tax rate is set at $31.08, which is a 28 percent increase from last year’s rate of $24.28, and the highest it’s been in the past five years. The biggest portion of the that increase is due to the town’s portion of the rate, which went from $8.40 in 2016 to $14.45 this year, an increase of 72 percent.  

Gould said she first got the idea that her bill was going to be higher than usual when she saw postings on Facebook complaining about incoming property tax bills. She called her husband and asked if he’d gotten the mail yet. When he opened the bill, she said, they knew it was going to be an issue – it had gone up by nearly $2,000 compared to her last bill.

“The house we bought four years ago, we now can’t afford,” she said. “We’re getting ready to put the house on the market.”

The couple has already attempted to bring down their property taxes by putting most of their land into current use, which limits development to whatever is currently happening on the property, she said. 

“This erased everything we did to bring down our mortgage.”

Gould said she doesn’t want to have to move – she has two young boys in the school system, and her husband is a Boy Scout leader. 

“We planned to stay in this house at the very least until my boys were out of high school,” she said. 

The Greenville Select Board released a press release explaining the increase as being a combination of increases in the budget and less money in the town’s unreserved fund balance, which it has traditionally used to offset town taxes.

“For the past three years, the Selectmen have used unreserved fund balance to reduce the tax rate, as Greenville’s ratio of unreserved fund balance to general operating expenditures was well above Department of Revenue recommendations,” according to the release. In doing so, the taxpayers enjoyed as much as a $6.50 reduction in the town rate.”

This year, the release explains, the town doesn’t have as much surplus, and using the unreserved fund balance to offset the tax rate could impact the town’s solvability. 

This year’s tax rate is comparable to the 2013 rate, only a difference of about two cents.

“We realize that this large upward correction of the tax rate is difficult for our taxpayers, and we will make efforts to reduce expenses wherever possible, and employ prudent and sustainable fund balance use to stabilize the tax rate going forward,” the release reads.

“The explanation of ‘We live here too, we’re affected too,’ isn’t going to help people,” said Gould. “It doesn’t excuse what I consider poor planning.”

Bob McCreery, who resides on Adams Street, said he’s also felt the impact of the sharp increase.

“It’s harder and harder every year to pay our taxes,” he said. “I know it takes what it takes to support the town and maintain the roads and the schools, but that’s a stinger.”

McCreery said that if there wasn’t a change, that the tax rate would begin to “chase people out of town.”

Select Board Chair Carla Mary has invited residents to attend the board’s next meeting on Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. at the town offices, and the board will answer questions and concerns regarding the tax rate. 


Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.