Photo: The Assessors before the Select Board (from left) Martin Millane, Robert Reardon and Charles Laverty III
Belmont homeowners knew the day of reckoning was coming.
And that day will be July 1, 2020 when the dual impact of the successful vote on the $213 million debt exclusion to build the new Middle and High School and continued skyrocketing property values will result in one of the largest annual property tax increases in recent memory, according to Robert Reardon, the long-time chair of the Belmont Board of Assessors.
“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but maybe the amount will,” said Reardon.
The red hot Belmont property market contributed in pushing up the “average” single family home value (made up of the sum of all home values divided by the number of homes) to $1,285,000 with property values on single family homes increased a whopping 18 percent in the past 12 months outpacing all other categories such as condos (6 percent) and multi-families (10 percent), Reardon told a special meeting of the Select Board held Wednesday, Dec. 18.
“[Belmont] remains a desireable place to live and it has a good school system. And while it’s very close to Boston, you can still get a good yard and a garage while in Cambridge for the same price you’ll likely get off street parking,” said Reardon whose day job is as director of Cambridge’s Assessing Department.
The total annual taxes on that “average” house comes to $14,135, an 11 percent increase from the $12,720 set the previous fiscal year, with half of the $1,415 increase attributed to the debt exclusion passed by voters in November, 2018, said Reardon, who attended the meeting with his fellow board members Charles Laverty, III and Martin Millane.
The rest of the increase consists of the annual two-and-a-half percent ceiling on total property taxes the town can levy and new growth which came in at $1.1 million.
Reardon also noted this year’s debt exclusion only covers the first half of the construction funding with a second, equally large increase coming in fiscal 2021.
Reardon came before the board to reveal the town’s property tax rate for the coming fiscal year – which begins on July 1, 2020 – at $11 per $1,000 assessed value, a reduction of two-thirds of a buck from the fiscal ’19 rate of $11.67.
The total assessed value of property in Belmont shot up to $9.210 billion from $7.947 billion in fiscal ’19.
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 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.
“There’s always this misconception that if you have a split rate it’s going to be beneficial for homeowners but that’s not the case,” said Reardon.