SOUTH HADLEY, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone physically, emotionally, and financially. Many residents in western Mass. now are expressing their concerns about their property tax bill and have seen an increase during a time where many town services have been inaccessible.
South Hadley and Granby residents have expressed their frustrations on paying an increased amount of property taxes during the pandemic.
Many asked, "Why are my property taxes raised when I can't get into many of the town services like libraries, schools, or even the town hall?"
Western Mass News spoke with a town administrator on why residents are paying and what they should be paying.
"So many people agree with me. People do not understand, why now?" asked Granby resident Lisa Cohen.
Frustration has stirred in both towns of Granby and South Hadley. This frustration comes as many are seeing an unfriendly property tax bill. They called it a drastic increase to previous years.
"We built our house three years ago, and every year our taxes have exponentially gone up. This year, it disproportionately went up and rose, a question as to why? Can someone explain to me why this is so?" Cohen asked.
The average house in both towns valued the fiscal year of 2021 at $280,200. They hit with a nearly $170,000 increase in their property tax bill.
Cohen told Western Mass News other residents said they don't understand why it was raise. They point this out due to town services hardly being used by the public during the pandemic.
"Especially, when families, parents had to quit their job because of home-schooling, paychecks are not keeping up, and obviously, COVID-19 is wrecking services in town," she noted. "You can't use the library. Parks and trails were closed all summer."
Western Mass News spoke to South Hadley town administrator Michael Sullivan who said while the pandemic has forced many people out of their go-to spots in town, that doesn't mean the services are not in use.
"I know the frustration, but the reality is, some of those services are being provided differently and are not always less expensive to do so," Sullivan said. "We still have police services to the community, our parks clean, [and] buildings maintained, as I said for when we could reopen. So those costs are remaining."
Sullivan added that there is another side to the issue.
"We have quarterly taxes. The first tax bill you get was an estimate. In South Hadley, the second house bill was an estimate," he explained. "So when you get the third bill, it's inordinately large because you're paying the increase in a shorter period. It looks like a bigger cost."
But Cohen told us if this is what it is, residents need to come together and go to bat for what they want in the future.
"People need to go to their town meetings, they need to vote on their city tax rates, how to set, [and] they need to get more involved," she said.
Sullivan told Western Mass News there are some costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic that may be temporary or not covered at all. That the towns had to adapt or change, moving some of the budget funds to cover those costs.