Westborough braces for potential jump in tax bills

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Westborough braces for potential jump in tax bills
The average Westborough single-family tax bills could increase by nearly $1,000 in fiscal 2025. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – The average single-family household’s property tax bill could jump by nearly $1,000 in fiscal 2025.

During the public hearing on the town’s 2025 fiscal year budget on Jan. 23, Town Manager Kristi Williams said the proposed budget is suggesting “a significant increase” of $979 for the average tax bill.

“The 979 is scary,” said Select Board member Allen Edinberg. “But now is not the time to panic.”

Williams said the increase could change depending on several factors, including state aid, the assessment from Assabet Valley, the contract for the firefighters’ union and the town’s insurance budget.

“There’s a lot that we will learn” before Town Meeting, she said.

Overall, the total fiscal 2025 budget is estimated at $136,555,216, or about 4.96% over fiscal 2024. This includes an operating budget of $122,579,377.

Based on a tax rate of $16.91 per thousand, and an average single-family home value of $747,327, the average single-family tax bill for fiscal 2025 would be estimated at $12,635.

There is a proposal to use $450,000 from free cash to help offset the increase. If there was no transfer from free cash, the estimated tax increase would be more than $1,000.

Williams said the estimates for the town budget will increase by nearly $1.5 million, or 6.62%, over the 2024 fiscal year budget. About 22% of that increase can be attributed to the town’s purchase of a building at 1500 Union St. for a community center.

“We were very clear about this [the budget] when we presented the community center” last fall, she said.

Williams presented a more detailed breakdown on the center’s anticipated costs, including building and common area maintenance agreement ($171,000), fuel and gas ($41,874), custodian ($59,980), electricity ($126,625), community center manager (six months at $32,490), salary and wages ($92,470), total operating expenses ($339,499) and debt service ($770,000).

The total estimated impact on the budget would be $1.201 million, with a tax impact for the average single-family household of $147.84. This is a decrease from the October estimate of the potential tax impact of $180.84. Williams attributed the decrease to budgeting the center manager for six months, as well as lower costs for maintenance.

The town is expected to close on the deal for the community center in March.

There are also estimated increases to the school budget at 5.44%, fixed costs like insurance and electricity at 13.66%, Worcester County regional retirement at 11% and Assabet Valley assessment at 10.97%.

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