A Gardner city council member’s residence is listed among those who have delinquent property taxes, but the matter is in the process of being cleared up.
The home of council member Dan Newburg is owned by the Gardner Church of the Nazarene. Newburg serves as the church’s pastor and his home serves as the church’s parsonage. Church properties are eligible for tax abatements, but when Newburg’s church sold one parsonage and purchased another – located at 827 N. Cedar St. in Gardner – church officials didn’t realize they needed to file new paperwork with the county.
“Blame it on ignorance or stupidity,” Newburg said. “It didn’t occur to us with the purchase of new property. We just didn’t know until we started receiving delinquency notices.”
Newburg and the Gardner City Council recently approved a 6.5 mill property tax increase – or an increase of approximately $120 for the average home in Gardner. Newburg said he understands why some residents may be angry with his decision to raise taxes knowing he doesn’t pay property taxes.
“I understand, you know, how they would be frustrated and angry by that,” Newburg said. “Neither myself, nor my family, nor the church are trying to scam anybody. We’re not trying to get away with anything. I would like to be in the situation where we owned property.”
Newburg said he made an honest assessment of the city’s budget before casting a vote to increase the mill levy.
“I looked at it from the standpoint of where the city finances are at, and I just felt from my vantage point that what we needed to do right now was to raise the mill,” he said. “Was it an easy decision? No. Is it going to create a hardship for some? I wish I had a decision in front of me that would’ve made everyone happy. Will everybody agree with that? I felt like I was doing the best that I could at the time.”