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Swampscott sets tax rate; selectmen decide not to change residential-commercial ratio

SWAMPSCOTT – The tax rate has been set and business owners will pay 1.75 times the rate paid by residential property owners.The selectmen voted unanimously to set the tax rate at $16.60 per $1,000 of assessed value for residential property and $30.80 per $1,000 of assessed value for businesses.According to data provided by Assistant Assessor Donna Champagne-O’Keefe, the owner of a $474,810 home would pay approximately $7,782 in taxes. If businesses and residential properties were taxed at the same rate, O’Keefe said the same residential property owner would pay $8,357 in taxes.In 2009, commercial properties were taxed $30.58 per $1,000 of assessed valued and homeowners paid $16.48 in taxes per $1,000 of assessed value.Selectman David Van Dam said the increase was kept to a minimum because the town has been frugal.”A minimal increase is fantastic I believe,” he said.Town Administrator Andrew Maylor explained the Board of Selectmen received information from the Board of Assessors to help them determine the residential-commercial tax ratio but were unable to vote because the state had not certified the valuations.Maylor said the valuations have been certified and the selectmen could vote on the tax shift. State law allows municipalities to tax businesses at up to 175 percent of that of residential property.Selectman Matthew Strauss said the split rate was implemented more than 20 years ago and changing it now would not be fair to residents.Selectman Robert Mazow pointed out Attorney William DiMento spoke at the public hearing last week and raised some concerns about the tax shift being unfair to businesses.”It may not always be this shift,” Mazow said. “For the time being this is what we have and we have to live with it.”Selectman Jill Sullivan was not at the meeting but Selectman Richard Malagrifa and the other three selectmen present voted in favor of setting the rate as recommended by the Board of Assessors and Maylor.In other business, the selectmen voted unanimously to allow Red Rock Bistro to enter into a payment agreement with the town for unpaid back taxes and fees due the town. Maylor explained a business that owes back taxes could obtain a liquor license if it enters into a payment agreement with the town for the arrears. Maylor did not disclose the amount owed or the specifics of the payment agreement.”I’m comfortable it protects the town’s interest,” Maylor said.

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