ADAMS -- With fiscal year 2013's numbers in, residents and businesses alike can expect to pay higher tax rates on lower property values, Assessor Donna M. MacDonald said at this week's Selectmen's meeting.
The new tax rates will be $18.25 per thousand dollars of valuation for residents, and $21.67 per thousand for commercial, industrial and private property. The figures represent respective increases of $0.99 and $1.20 over fiscal year 2012.
MacDonald said $8,771,863 in local taxes needs to be collected this coming year, and that the state Department of Revenue recognized a total decrease of $28 million in town-wide property values during their 2012 certification of valuation for Adams.
"We have a certain pot we have to fill and the only way to fill it if the [property] values go down is to bring the tax rate up," MacDonald said at Wednesday's meeting.
The $28 million decrease was a drop of five percent, leaving Adams' total valuation at $465.5 million. The certification was "90 percent" based on selling prices of the roughly 120 properties that sold in 2011, MacDonald said. Homes in the town average $134,000.
Given the dynamic, Selectmen agreed that the effect on the total bill for most won't be severe.
Selectmen Michael Ouellette called it "pretty much a wash on 90 percent of properties in town," while noting the possibility for outliers.
Still, Selectmen Scott Nichols and John Duval expressed frustration at the potential effect higher rates can have on people and businesses looking in at the community, and perhaps considering relocating there. They also were displeased by the town's ownership of one of the county's highest tax rates.
However, Nichols also saw reason for optimism. He said sales in 2012 have been good, and that several properties have sold at $50,000 above their assessed values.
"2012 sales look strong," Nichols said. "Next year it could be a completely different picture."
Selectmen's Chair Arthur "Skip" Harrington noted that it may be time for the town to have a revaluation performed by an independent party.
"It'll cost money, but I'd like to have a professional look into [the matter] and give some advice," Harrington said.
Tax rates have been hiked for most of the past five years, with a few exceptions for when it remained steady or saw a small drop, most recently in fiscal year 2010. The fifteen percent shift in residential and commercial tax rates has held steady for going on four years. In 2007, the shift was 35 percent in favor of residents, but Selectmen at the time worked to have that rate dip to its current percentage by fiscal 2010.
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