Belmont FY ’24 Property Tax Rate Falls But Not Owners Bill; Average Single Family Price Tag Tops $1.6M

Photo: Assessors Charles Laverty III and Bob Reardon with Assessing Administrator Dan Dargon before the Select Board during the annual property tax rate hearing, Monday, Dec. 4

In what could be the final time an elected Belmont Board of Assessors makes the presentation, the three-member board announced a drop in the fiscal year 2024 property tax rate during its annual property classification tax rate hearing before the Select Board on Monday, Dec. 4.

“The tax rate that’s going to be proposed by the Board of Assessors will be a decrease from a rate [of] $11.24 [per $1,000 of assessed value] for this year, down to $10.57 for fiscal year ’24,” Bob Reardon, the long-time Assessor’s chair, told the Select Board.

While it may initially sound like a windfall for homeowners, members from both boards told property owners not to expect a drop in their bills in the new year. Reardon said the vast majority of the decline of 67 cents was due to the increase in the value of all properties over the past year.

“Just because the tax rates are coming down doesn’t necessarily lead to people paying less,” said Reardon. “The tax rate is simply computed by the amount being raised divided by the total assessed value.”

“I think people hear, ‘Oh, the rates have gone down, great,'” said Select Board Vice Chair Elizabeth Dionne. “No, that is not what it means. This just means your [home’s] value is higher.”

Values for all Belmont property classifications increased in the past year. The town’s total residential and personal property assessment is $11.3 billion, up from $9.0 billion in fiscal year ’23.

The actual tax levy – how much the town can raise after increasing real estate by the maximum annual 2.5 percent – to be raised in fiscal year ’24 is $119.5 million, of which $106.3 million comes from the total levy for residential and commercial property. An additional $13.1 million comes from eight debt exclusions for everything from the construction of the Beech Street Center to the new Middle/High school. The debt exclusions for the new rink and library will be included in the calculation for the fiscal year 2025. According to Reardon, new growth collected in the past year “remains strong,” raising $876,069.

Despite higher-than-average mortgage rates, during which property values “usually take a dip,” Reardon told the board that due to a lack of inventory of houses for sale, the average single-family home in Belmont jumped to $1,615,200, an increase of more than 10 percent from $1,436,500 in fiscal year 2023.

With its presentation on Monday, the Board of Assessors will face a Special Town Meeting in the next two months, where members will be asked to change the board from its current elected members to an appointed board. Similar to the recent change of the town Treasurer from an elected to an appointed position, the Town Meeting would follow a recommendation of the Collins Center Report.

As in past years, the assessors recommended, and the Select Board agreed to a single tax classification and not to enact real estate exemptions. With barely five percent of Belmont’s property base commercial, Reardon reiterated past statements that commercial property must reach 30 percent to make a split rate effective and not deter businesses from staying or coming to Belmont.

While voting to approve the Assessors’ rate recommendation, the Select Board decides on two related issues: whether to implement a singular “split” rate for commercial and residential properties and to approve a residential exemption that would reduce the rate on owner-occupied properties at the expense of non-occupied residences. 

As for residential exemptions, the administrative costs to run such a program would be prohibitive for a revenue-neutral initiative. As with the split rate, two-thirds of rate payers would see little reductions or increases in their tax bill.

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.

No Tax Delay In Belmont; Treasurer Will Work With Residents Seeking Assistance

Photo: Homer Building, Belmont Treasurer’s office

Belmont will not be joining a growing number of communities around the Commonwealth offering tax relief, including penalty waivers and deadline extensions, to residents in response to the COVID-19 crisis, according to town officials.

The Belmont Select Board will follow a request from Town Treasurer Floyd Carman not to follow the lead of Boston, Springfield, and towns such as Milford in pushing back real estate tax deadlines.

“We’ve been getting a lot of requests and comments” on extending the time residents can pay their taxes to June 1 rather than current May 1 deadline, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin told the Select Board at its Monday, April 13 remote meeting.

In an email to the board, Carman said the major reason for rejecting a delay is due to the likely contraction in cash flow entering town coffers. With Belmont expecting a rapid fall in certain revenue streams in the final quarter of the fiscal year, this is not the time to slow down payments.

Earlier in the meeting, Garvin told the board the town needs “some significant sufficient cash flow to be able to pay our bills until the end of the year because we don’t know over the next two and a half months what’s going to happen.”

Rather than a blanket date change, Carmen will work with residents on a case by case basis.

“The goal is for those members of the community that actually require some relief, there is the desire to collaborate … as opposed to just have an extra 30 days,” said Select Board Chair Tom Caputo.

If residents are having difficulties paying their taxes, they should contact Carman at his office (617) 489-8234) and he will work out a payment plan, according to the email.

Smaller Real Estate Tax Bill Jump in ’17 as Property Values Cool

Photo: Belmont’s Assessors’ (from left) Charles R. Laverty, III, Robert P. Reardon, Martin B. Millane, Jr.

Real estate taxes on the average-valued home in Belmont will increase by the least amount in the past four years after the Belmont Board of Selectmen approved at its Monday, Dec. 19 meeting the recommendation of the town’s Board of Assessors’ to up the town’s property tax rate 14 cents in 2017.

The annual tax bill for the average assessed valued property – currently $941,700 – would increase by $311 to $11,960, less than half of last year’s hike of $717 under the new tax rate of $12.70 per $1,000 of assessed value. The current rate is $12.56 per $1,000.

Under the new rate, the annual tax for a property assessed at $750,000 will be $9,525, or $2,381.25 per quarterly tax bill.

The increase in the tax rate “is a result of a slight increase in real property values with an increase in the tax levy capacity,” wrote Assessors’ Chair Robert P. Reardon in the board’s yearly report to the Selectmen.

Reardon told the Belmontonian the town data showed a significant cooling in real estate values in Belmont this year. After increases of $55,300 ($782,600 to $847,900) from 2014 to 2015 and $79,500 between 2016-15 ($847,900 to $927,400), assessed values increased just $14,300 in 2017 compared to 2016.

After years of five percent increases in average assessed values, “[y]ou expect it to pull back, and it did this year,” said Reardon, who predicts home values will continue to level off in 2017 with two interest rate hikes anticipated by the Federal Reserve.

Under the new rate, Belmont will collect $85.6 million from residential, commercial, open land and personal properties. Last fiscal year, the town raised $82.9 million in real estate taxes.

Reardon noted a healthy increase in new property growth totaling $788,000 from the construction of the Belmont Uplands and the sale of prime properties on Woodland Road provided a “nice” bump into the town’s coffers.

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 – at a minimum 20 percent – to creating separate tax rates for residential and commercial properties. Belmont’s commercial base is 4.24 percent of the total real estate.

“People always assumes there’s money if you go with the split rate and that’s not true,” Reardon told the Belmontonian.

Belmont Real Estate Taxes Due by Friday, Aug. 1

It’s that time of the year: Belmont Real Estate taxes are due once again.

First quarter Real Estate and Personal Property Taxes will need to be in the town’s Treasurer’s Office by Friday, Aug. 1, at 1 p.m. so not to be deemed late.

There are several methods a ratepayer can use to submit their bill:

• In person at the Treasurer’s Office which is located on the first floor of the Homer Building in the Town Hall complex in Belmont Center. Just a reminder that the office closes at 1 p.m. on Fridays during the summer.

• Payments for Real Estate, Personal Property, and Excise Tax bills can be submitted after hours using the secured drop box located to the left of the Homer Building entranceway. Tax bills will be considered “on time” if they are placed in the drop box before 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 4.

• Go to the Town of Belmont’s website to make an online payment or to sign up for paperless billing.

If you need assistance, please call (617) 993-2770.