Lynnfield businesses seeing red over taxes

December 1, 2016

By LEAH DEARBORN

LYNNFIELD — Several business owners spoke out against the high tax bills coming from property values at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting. The board voted to maintain a 1.184 tax rate shift, meaning residential and commercial tax classifications are set to stay close to their rates in fiscal year 2016; residential valuation rates moved from 86.21 to 86.41 percent and commercial rates went down from 11.92 to 11.28 percent.

While the tax levy itself isn’t moving much, a number of business owners complained about the increases.

Restaurateur Jeffrey Gates, one of the owners of Gaslight Lynnfield, said he received a tax bill for approximately $76,000, a larger sum than what he pays for properties in Boston.

“The town of Lynnfield is our host … but it’s caught us completely off guard,” said Gates, who wanted to know why the property was so highly assessed. “These numbers are what box stores can afford to pay.”

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Assessing Manager Raymond E. Boly said Lynnfield splits its rate between commercial and residential taxes, making it one of the few small towns in the state to share the tax burden equally between classes.

Boly said the practice is more typical of larger communities and that the town adopted the split rate in 2004 to compensate for residential values that were rising at a faster rate than commercial properties at the time.

“We have a disagreement about value,” said Tom Desimone, a partner at WS Development, the firm that developed MarketSteet.

Desimone said the firm presented the town with an economic impact statement eight years ago that estimated $1.5 million in gross revenue for the town. He said MarketStreet is now paying the town $3.5 million in taxes.

According to statistics provided at the meeting, the average value of a retail store on Market Street went up from $190,503,900 to $206,081,600 over the past year.

“We’re providing more benefit to the town than we thought we would be able to. To some extent, I’m glad to do that,” said Desimone, who has begun an appeal process in an attempt to bring tenant bills down. “We’ll figure it all out and come to some sort of solution.”

“We’re pretty low for commercial tax rates,” said board member Christopher Barrett. “Residents also bear the burden.”

The same statistics from the meeting listed the average residential value in town for 2017 at $618,400.

Commercial tax rates in town were lower than in surrounding communities, set at $17.68 in 2016 as opposed to Wakefield’s rate of $27.03 and Peabody’s rate of $24.19.

Philip Crawford, chairman of the board, said that the money from MarketStreet is all part of one big tax levy, some of which has gone into the town operating budget. He said it was especially beneficial in refilling reserve accounts that were depleted during the years of the recession.