The current split used for residential and commercial taxes will remain in place next year, along with a break for small business owners.
At its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 20, the Town Council voted unanimously to maintain the split tax rate, which shifts 18 percent from the residential rate to the commercial. The council felt that they didn’t want to increase the financial burden on either the townspeople or business owners.
According to Assistant Assessor Sheila Scatudo, in Massachusetts, cities and towns can opt for either a single tax rate for all properties or a split rate. Choosing the latter creates two rates, with residential on one end and commercial, industrial, and personal [CIP] properties on the other.
North Attleborough’s Board of Selectmen chose some time back to go with a split rate, shifting an additional 18 percent of the rate to CIP properties. Of the town’s total properties, 84 percent are residential. With the split now decided on, the town will await its tax rate from the state Department of Revenue.
In addition, the council voted to approve a motion to maintain the town’s 5 percent exemption for small businesses. To qualify, the value of the property on which the business is located must be under $1 million, and it must employ 10 employees or less. If a property has multiple tenants, for it to qualify each business must meet these criteria. The tax rate for all other commercial properties is increased to recoup this exemption.
According to Board of Assessors Chairman John Bellissimo, approximately 50 businesses take advantage of the exemption. He said that if this were to be revoked, it would increase the rate to those businesses by 3 cents—not a large alteration, he said, but one that would add up. Last year, he said, approximately $15,000 was shifted from small businesses through this exemption.
“If it’s not granted, all businesses would be taxed at the same rate,” he said.
The council felt strongly about keeping this exemption. Councilor John Simmons said that removing it would have an impact. Councilor Justin Pare said he’d be willing to listen to a case to remove the exemption, but until that time, he sided with keeping it. Councilor Michael Lennox said he was inclined to keep the exemption, citing the many local businesses that use it.
“It’s hard to say what the cost is if we weren’t doing this,” he said.