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What if there was no industry

MAIN STREET JOURNAL – There are sections of Marlborough and other neighboring communities that few residents drive through. They are off the beaten paths, pretty much out of sight and out of mind, places zoned for industry where large and small companies are housed.

To the typical resident, it does not matter much if this land is vacant or bustling with activity. What difference does it make, really? If all of the industry in Marlborough simply went away, would it matter much to the average city resident?

As it turns out, it is a pretty well kept secret or there is at least general misunderstanding among most residents in terms of fully grasping what it means to have a vibrant industrial sector in the community.

Consider property taxes as one example. According to data provided by the Marlborough Assessors’s Office, the tax rate for residential property is $15.76 per thousand and the value of the average single family home is about $304K. That equates to a property tax bill of $4,791 for the average homeowner.

Marlborough’s tax rate is the lowest in the immediate region and it is made possible, in large part, because of contributions made by the city’s commercial and industrial property owners.

Commercial land houses retail businesses, the type that people see regularly. Industrial parcels, for the most part, are less visible. These properties are taxed at a higher rate ($27.43) by the city. Because of this split tax rate, even though commercial and industrial properties represent only 32.8% of the value of all land in Marl­borough, owners of those parcels pay 45.9% of the taxes or about 140% of their proportional share.

If there was no split rate, and every property owner paid their proportional share, the residential tax rate would increase to $19.59 and tax bills for the average homeowner would go up by about $1,164. If there was no industry in Marlborough, and all other property owners paid their proportional share, the residential tax rate would increase to about $21.80 and tax bills for the average homeowner would go up by about $1,837.

These numbers tell a story that is not well known. If there was no industry, some residents would be unable to afford the homes they live in and all residents would most likely suffer a reduction in services. But the impact of industry does not stop there.

According to Marlborough Economic Development Cor­poration, there are about 40,000 people employed by Marl­borough’s commercial and industrial companies. The number employed only within industry was not available. Suffice it to say, there are a large number of Marlborough residents who have jobs because of the city’s healthy industrial sector. What if those jobs went away?

Not only is the economic well-being of many families at stake, but the well-being of small retail businesses would also be affected. In fact, many small Marlborough businesses would not survive were it not for the revenue they generate from commuting customers who are in Marlborough only because they work at an industrial site.

Lastly, industry produces products that we use frequently and offers services that we rely on, and many companies located on industrial land contribute to the community in other ways, through donations to worthy causes, and with employee volunteerism. There is no accurate way to put a price tag on the full impact industry has on the quality of life enjoyed by residents, but one fact is crystal clear. They may be out of sight and out of mind, but Marlborough would suffer greatly if industry one day went away.

This article originally appeared here.