By Max Bowenemail@example.com
The annual public hearing to set the town’s tax rate took an unexpected turn as not raising residential taxes came under discussion.
The hearing was held at the Town Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 8. The council heard of the town’s growth, which includes the construction of 20 new residential homes, 24 condos, the opening of the apartments at 21 East St., as well as home additions and new sheds and pools. The average home assessment last year was approximately $414,000 and is expected to increase to $431,000.
“We’re likely going to see an increase (in home values),” said Town Manager Michael Borg. “We’ve heard of bidding wars—we’ve heard of homes being sold for well over what they’re valued.”
Borg added that approximately $63 million in taxes was collected last year and the tax levy for 2022 has been estimated at $65,572,242. The current tax rate is $14.27 for residential owners and $17.32 for commercial properties, with residents receiving an 18 percent discount.
During the meeting different options to help residents were considered, as many are still struggling from the impacts of the pandemic. Proposition 2 ½ limits communities to a 2.5 percent increase to property taxes, but it does not require that such an increase take place. The council considered keeping residential taxes level-funded, and the increase to commercial/industrial owners would rise to $18.04.
Councilor John Simmons said that the town has done what it can for seniors, though many are still at risk of being priced out of their homes. However, he said that it may best to wait until the town had fully emerged from the pandemic before considering not raising taxes.
“I don’t know if now is the time for a large swing out of what we have been doing,” said Simmons. “Coming out of COVID, I don’t think we should be changing.”
Other suggestions included having no increase for 2022 and then seeing if small adjustments could be made in the subsequent years or making a small shift in the resident’s favor.
In the end, the council voted to retain the same 18 percent split between residential and commercial properties. The new tax rate will be $13.90 for residents and $17.04 for commercial/industrial. In addition, a 5 percent tax exemption for small businesses was approved.
Borg said that though the rate will be lower, property tax bills are expected to rise $97 for the year due to the increased assessments. During the meeting Marie Clarner—speaking as a resident—asked for greater clarification on how home assessments are calculated. Council President Justin Pare said that the current tax rate makes North Attleborough competitive with other communities.
“If we have seniors in danger of losing their homes, we will be responsive to that,” he said. “If that happens we have other options.”