Spike in Average Property Tax Bill Anticipated As Override Comes Dues

Photo: Board of Assessors’ (from left) Robert Reardon, Martin Millane, Jr. and Charles Laverty III

Belmont property owners can expect the equivalent of a lump of coal in their next two quarterly tax bill arriving in February 2016 as residents prepare to pay for the Prop 2 1/2 override voters passed in April.

The average household can expect to see its next two tax bills jump by $350, according to Robert Reardon, chair of the Belmont Board of Assessors which presented its recommendations for next fiscal year’s property tax rate to the Belmont Board of Selectmen at its Monday, Dec. 14 meeting.

While the assessors are recommending a significant drop in the tax rate – $12.56 per $1,000 in fiscal 2016, down from $12.90 in fiscal ’15 – any possible dip in taxes was offset by a dramatic increase of 11 percent in assessed values of all property town-wide, from $5.928 billion in 2015 to 2016’s $6.598 billion.

Approximately $4.5 million of the $6.9 million spike in assessed values comes from the Proposition 2 1/2 override that passed comfortably by voters at this year’s Town Election to stabilize school finances.

In comparison, assessed values rose in fiscal year 2015 by $2.3 million and by $1.9 million in fiscal ’14.

The value of an “average,” or median priced Belmont house has rocketed to $928,003 from $847,900 in fiscal 2015

For the “average” Belmont home, taxes next fiscal year will be $11,655, an increase of $717.45 from the $10,938. 

In comparison, property taxes increased $373 between fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015.

Reardon said after the new fiscal year begins on July 1, 2016, the increase will be spread over four quarters, and the average customer’s bill will be about $180 higher.

Suspecting many Belmont residents would “notice” the large change in their tax bill, Reardon said the Assessors’ Office would include in the next two bills a two-page “explanation to the taxpayers on why the levy was increased and the approximate increase can is the result of the change.”

“Just so they have a better understanding and cut down the number of questions they may have,“ said Reardon, who was accompanied to the meeting by his colleagues, Martin Millane, Jr. and Charles Laverty III

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has a handy primer on calculating the tax levy.

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.

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

“One of the dilemmas is because our residential property values are so high, I think it artificially drives up a lot of our commercial properties,” said Baghdady.

“Commercial rents to justify the value is tough to absorb by a business,” said Baghdady.

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