Vote Cuts Tax Rate, but Homeowners’ Bills Still Head Up

November 24, 2018

TEWKSBURY -- The average tax bill in town for single-family homeowners will increase by about $360, after a recent Board of Selectmen vote.

The board took a unanimous vote to set the fiscal 2019 residential tax rate to $15.84 per $1,000 of assessed value. That makes the average single-family tax bill $6,415, according to Chief Assessor Joanne Foley.

For fiscal 2018, the residential tax rate in town was set to $16.13 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, making the average tax bill for single-family homes $6,056. The commercial tax rate was set to $27.74 in fiscal 2018, making for an average commercial tax bill of $21,044.

The board approved a residential factor of 0.8, so more of a financial burden is placed on commercial and industrial property owners. Right now, residential property values represent about 83 percent of the town’s total property value.

“The businesses can handle it because of the way the community is going, every business is having the best year they’ve had in years,” said Selectman Mark Kratman. “We want to give a little back to the residents. We want to save them some dollars.

“It’s not a big shift, but it’s something,” he added.

Kratman, who also chairs the town’s Economic Development Committee, said while businesses are thriving in town, it is important to be fair when voting on the shift.

“We want to be business-friendly. We don’t want to price businesses out of town, we want to encourage them to come here,” Kratman said. “So, we don’t want to do too much of a shift that makes it unaffordable for businesses to stay here.”

The commercial tax rate was set to $27.63 per $1,000 assessed valuation for fiscal 2019, making the average tax bill $21,363.

A number of factors contribute to the tax rate and tax bills in town, including property values and debt exclusions.

“A big piece of the increase is because of capital projects that have been approved for spending recently, for example, the new Center Fire Station is a good chunk of that $360,” Selectman Todd Johnson said.

Town Manager Richard Montuori said the new fire station represents about $85 of the tax bill. Johnson said the board aims also to keep the status quo.

“We tried to maintain a level of consistency from one year to the next in terms of impact on everybody, so that it wasn’t disproportionate,” he said.

In fiscal year 2018, the average single-family home value was $375,355. The average value of commercial property was $758,533. For fiscal year 2019, the average single-family home value is up to $404,963 and the average commercial property value is up to $773,191.

“In my eyes, average single-family homes went up significantly versus average commercial values, so it made all the sense in the world to shift more of the burden off the residents,” Selectmen Chair Jay Kelly said.

The tax rate has been split in town since 1985, according to data from the Assessor’s Office. Had the board not voted on a shift, the single tax rate would be $17.83, according to Foley.

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

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