The Average Family is Screwed

1196789826We’ve noticed that the media likes to talk about “the average family.” It’s a nice benchmark to break down abstract numbers into real-life situations. But sometimes the average family hears contrasting views on their wellness. Like today.

First came the good news this morning, that Boston homeowners will save an average of $142 per family on their taxes.

The tax bill for the average single-family house is expected to decrease by $142 in 2008, to $2,949, a 4.6 percent decline, according to the city assessor’s office. Owners of two-family houses can expect to pay $180 less on average, and three-family owners will owe an average of $152 less next year.

Pretty sweet, right? There’s some money you can save to treat yourself to a nice trip to Taunton in the doldrums of February. But hold on, because the average family is going to pay $1,000 more to heat their homes this winter.

A coalition of business, labor and community organizations bases its estimate on the state’s average heating oil price last week. The average is 39 percent higher than it was during the same week a year earlier.

The coalition, called the Massachusetts Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, says that increase translates to nearly $1,000 more for a family’s winter heating bill, compared with a year ago. That figure assumes a family will refill a 250-gallon oil tank four times over the winter.

Given the unseasonably cold temperatures, it could be even worse. Goodbye, white sand beaches. Hello, shoveling heavy white snow off your less heavily-taxed doorstep.