By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
North Attleborough will continue to offer a dual property tax rate—one for residents and another for commercial, industrial, and personal [CIP] property.
Town Manager Michael Borg said that property taxes account for $62.9 million, roughly 62 percent of the town’s operating budget. He added that the process of evaluating property values is a challenging one, made more difficult since the full impact of COVID-19 on the commonwealth is as of yet unknown.
“The challenges are unprecedented,” said Borg at the council’s Nov. 23 meeting.
Following a presentation on the town’s property values, the council voted 7-1 to adopt the 18 percent shift from the residential to the CIP owners. This results in a rate of $14.28 for residential property owners and $17.22 for owners of CIP parcels. Councilor Darius Gregory, who voted against this, said that he supports the split rate instead of a single one for all properties. However, he felt the data needs to be reviewed as people are moving away from brick and mortar sites and conducting more shopping online.
“It’s something to discuss,” said Gregory. “We really rely on business tax revenue.”
Many on the council felt that with the pandemic still raging, now was not the time to push any more of a tax burden on residents. Councilor Michael Lennox said many in town are still struggling with job loss. Councilor Julie Boyce said that business owners have more aid that they can apply for than homeowners.
“We are providing 1,000 meals a week,” she said of the town’s food pantries. “It used to be 360 at the soup kitchens for the area.”
Jack Lank, president of the United Regional Chamber of Commerce, expressed his opposition to the split rate through a letter to the council that was read aloud during the meeting. He said that businesses are taxed at a different rate than homes, and that the split rate is “neither fair, nor equitable for businesses.” He added that the town has proven itself unfriendly to businesses, and increasing the number of homes through sites such as the 194-unit apartment complex on East Street will only add more strain to town services.
“Residents have always received a greater value, dollar for dollar, with this tax rate,” he said. “Residents see a much smaller increase than businesses.”
In addition, the council approved 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.
Justin Pare, vice-president of the council and chair of the Finance Subcommittee, said approximately 40 businesses qualify for this exemption, which results in a savings of $12,500 for the owners. This is recouped by those businesses that don’t qualify.
“It’s a small price and really good marketing to the town,” said Pare. “It shows we support small businesses.”
Proposition 2 ½ only allows a 2.5 percent increase to property taxes each year, not including new growth. Chairman of the Board of Assessors John Bellissimo said that the town’s total value is approximately $4.3 billion, an increase of $172 million over last year. He described this as a “slight increase,” and that home valuations have improved as well.
“In terms of growth we’re moving in a good direction,” he said.