By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Northborough – At the Nov. 14 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Town Administrator John Coderre gave a presentation regarding the classification and valuation of property in relation to a single tax rate versus a split tax rate for commercial and residential property owners. The presentation was followed by a public hearing, required by law, before the board of selectmen voted to establish the tax rate and locking in the budget for Fiscal Year 2017.
In Coderre’s “State of the Tax Base” overview, he explained that property tax classification would allow communities to assess different tax rates for different classes of property (commercial, residential, or open space.) This is a policy decision that would artificially shift the tax burden among the types of property classified. It doesn’t net any additional revenue and it’s an issue of fairness and sustainability, he said, in essences, no “gimmicks”. Northborough has historically, since 1979, not voted to shift tax burdens.
Coderre reported some good financial news – $40.4 million in new growth and overall property values have increased. Net valuation is up from $2.62 to $2.69 billion and Northborough has bounced back to almost where it was before the housing bubble burst. In 2017, roughly 75 percent of the assessed value came from residential and the other 25 percent from commercial property, open space, etc. Commercial growth was largely influenced by Phase II of the Northborough Crossings complex. The top 15 commercial tax payers are stable and diverse and include a range from biotech to transportation.
The tax impact for FY2017 to the average single family homeowner will be about $248 which, according to Coderre, provides Northborough with an affordable rate. This includes the FY2017 operating budget, the Lincoln Street School debt and market adjustments due to revaluation. The tax levy is seeing some relief due to an increase in state aid and local receipts which offset the tax impact.
Northborough Principal Assessor Dan Brogie gave a short overview over the single versus split tax rate, reiterating Coderre’s comments. He urged the selectmen to keep the tax rate as is, with a single-tax rate. He said, “Think about the message being sent to the commercial tax base.” The goal is to attract more businesses to Northborough.
The selectmen opened the public hearing but there were no public comments.
Selectman Jeff Amberson noted, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It has worked well up to now.”
The other members agreed and unanimously approved the single tax rate for FY2017.