Belmont’s FY’22 Property Tax Rate Jumps To $11.55 per $1,000 Driven By New School Borrowing

Photo: The second $100 million borrowing for the new Middle and High School has driven the property tax rate higher.

Belmont taxpayers will see their property tax rate increase by four bits and a nickel as the Board of Assessors recommended a rate for fiscal year 2022 during its annual presentation before the Select Board on Thursday morning, Dec. 10.

“This [coming fiscal] year the tax rate will be going up 55 cents … from $11 to $11.55,” Reardon told the board. According to the assessors, the impact on a residential property valued at $1,285,000 – what the average single family house in Belmont is worth – will be $706. The annual tax bill for that average house comes out to $14,842.

While property values calculated by the assessors cooled off from the past years of double digit increases – this year single families are up 3 percent (as opposed to 18 percent last year), condos 5 percent, two and three families increased by 4 percent and commercial property was flat – the biggest impact on property taxes is the second phase of borrowing for the Middle and High School project. The new $100 million borrowing added 56 cents to the tax bill, said Reardon.

As in past years, the assessors recommended and the selectmen agreed to a single tax classification and no real estate exemptions. Reardon said Belmont does not have anywhere near the amount of commercial and industrial space (at must be least a minimum of 30 percent, said Reardon) to creating separate tax rates for residential and commercial properties. Belmont’s commercial base is approximately four percent of the total real estate inventory.

As for exemptions, the administrative costs to run such a program would be prohibitive for a revenue neutral imitative. And as with the split rate, the majority of taxpayers would see little in reductions or increases in their tax bill.

The Board of Assessors will officially set the fiscal year ‘22 property tax rate on Friday, Dec. 11.

Next Year’s Property Tax Rate Falls But Bill Continue Skyward As ‘Average’ Belmont Home Nears $1.1 Million

Photo: An “average” Belmont home that recently sold for $1.1 million (and it’s a ranch!)

Belmont Board of Selectmen Chair Adam Dash said that next fiscal year’s property tax rate approved by the board Thursday morning, Dec. 13 isn’t that onerous compared to charges imposed in other Massachusetts city and towns.

“It’s our housing values that are high,” said Dash, focusing on the annual dichotomy of where lower tax rates result in raising taxes for Belmont’s property owners after the Belmont Board of Assessors presented its analysis of Belmont real estate valuation during its annual tax classification hearing before the Selectmen.

Robert Reardon, long-time chair of the Board of Assessors, announced that Belmont’s fiscal ’19 property tax rate – which begins on July 1, 2019 – will be set at $11.67 per $1,000 assessed value, a reduction of nearly half-a-buck from the fiscal ’18 rate of $12.15.

But the average quarterly bill isn’t shrinking with the new tax rate as the total assessed value of property in Belmont shot up to $7.947 billion from $7.497 billion in fiscal ’18 as home buyers continue to clamor into the “Town of Homes.” 

The healthy increase in Belmont property values also pushed up the average residential home value to $1,090,000, a jump of a little more than 8 percent or $86,000 in 12 months. “Incredible,” said Selectman and lifelong Belmont resident Mark Paolillo upon hearing what the new “average” has become.

With home prices increasing at a steady clip, the annual tax bill in fiscal ’19 on an average assessed valued property ($1,090,000 x $11.67) will be $12,720.30, an increase of $525 from the $12,195.56  in fiscal ’18.

And the town is squeezing every last drop of taxes from the levy; by taking in $89.25 million, it is leaving only $4,003.08 of excess capacity “on the table,” said Reardon. 

When Selectman Tom Caputo asked how the new 7-12 school building on the site of Belmont High School will impact tax assessments, Town Treasurer Floyd Carman said the nearly $215 million debt exclusion will be phased in over three years beginning in fiscal 2020. The town is expected to borrow between $85 to $90 million in long-term borrowing in the first two years with taxes on an average home increasing by $680 each year. The final year will be short-term bonds in the $25 million to $30 million range.

“Think $1,800 plus” total increase on the average property in taxes by the start of fiscal 2022, “assuming we keep our [triple A] bond rating,” said Carman.

As in past years, the assessors’ recommended, and the selectmen agreed to a single tax classification and no real estate exemptions. Reardon – who is director of Cambridge’s Assessing Department – said Belmont does not have anywhere near the amount of commercial and industrial space (at must be least a minimum of 20 percent, said Reardon) to creating separate tax rates for residential and commercial properties. Belmont’s commercial base is 3.9 percent of the total real estate.

“Every year, the layperson ask us why we don’t increase the commercial rate, and the reason is that is such a small, small impact,” said Reardon. If Belmont increased commercial rates to the maximum limit under the law, those tax bills would jump on average by $6,350 while residential taxes would fall to $381, placing an unfair burden on commercial owners and their renters “and make Belmont a less desirable town.” 

“People always assume there’s more money if you go with the split rate when it really is just shifting the cost to the commercial side,” Reardon said.

Belmont Property Tax Rate Falls but the Average Bill Continues to Rise

The good news: The Belmont Board of Selectmen has cut the property tax rate in fiscal 2015 by nearly five percent.

The bad news: Your residential tax bill will in all likelihood be higher in the coming fiscal year.

That’s the analysis from the Board of Assessors which presented its recommendations to the Selectmen on Monday, Dec. 1.

The board’s recommendation, which the Selectmen approved unanimously, was that the fiscal 2015 tax rate to be set at $12.90 per $1,000 of the assessed value of the property. That is a 60 cent cut from last fiscal year’s rate of $13.50.

While normally a cut in a rate would be good news, it comes as the assessed value of Belmont properties increased by just under $500 million to $5.9 billion. That increase can be seen in the value of an “average,” or median, Belmont house which exploded to $847,900 from $782,600 last year.

For the “average” Belmont home, taxes next fiscal year will be $10,938, up $373 from last year’s average of $10,565.

“The decrease in the rate is a result of the increase in real property values with an increase in the tax levy capacity,” said Assessors Chairman Robert Reardon, who was accompanied to the meeting by his colleagues, Martin Millane, Jr. and Charles Laverty III.

For more information on just what is and how the tax levy is calculated, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue has a handy primer explaining the concept.

With the vote, Belmont will see an increase in property taxes in the coming fiscal year of $2.3 million (compared to $1.9 million last year) from a total amount collected of $76.6 million. That amount is the sum of the annual 2.5 percent increase allowed under state law and $654,000 in “new growth” which includes properties that have increased in assessed valuation since the prior year because of development or other changes and any new subdivisions and condo conversions.

As with past years, the assessors recommended and the selectmen agreed to a single tax classification for all properties and no real estate exemptions.

Reardon said Belmont does not have anywhere near the amount of commercial and industrial space needed to support separating the classes with their own tax rate.

“We are not raising more money by having a commercial rate, we are only shifting it” onto businesses while the savings for residential rate payers would be “negotiable,” said Reardon.

Under a senario where the commercial rate would be maximized by a factor of 1.5, residential tax payers would see their rate drop by 39 cents to $12.51/$1,000 of assessed value for an “average” savings of $330 per year while commercial rates would increase to $19.35/$1,000 to see an average increase of nearly $5,500 from last year.

“Every board strives to increase our commercial base … we really want to incentive them and you don’t do that by increasing the tax rate,” said Selectmen Chair Andy Rojas.

New Belmont Property Tax Rate to be Released Monday

“Things as certain as Death and Taxes, can be more firmly believed,” wrote Daniel Defoe in “The Political History of the Devil.” 

Tonight, Monday, Dec. 1, the Belmont Board of Selectmen will be take on the certainty of taxes as it receives and will vote on how much residents and landowners will pay in property taxes.

The Board of Assessors will make its annual visit to the Selectmen’s Room to announce their recommendations on what is officially known as the “annual property classification/tax rate for fiscal year 2015.

A year ago this month, Belmont’s property tax rate was set at $13.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That was a 17 cent increase from the fiscal 2013 rate of $13.33/$1,000.

Last year’s tax rate broke a barrier in which half of Belmont property owners would pay $10,000 or more as the median Belmont residential property of $782,600 would result in a bill of $10,565.10.