Local Government and Politics, News

Average Swampscott tax bill down $51

SWAMPSCOTT — Residents will see a $51 decrease on their tax bills for 2019.

The Board of Selectmen voted in favor of adopting a Commercial, Industrial, and Personal Property (CIP) tax shift of 170 percent in Wednesday night’s meeting. The average single-family residential tax bill will now be $9,022 compared to this year’s $9,073 and 2017’s $9,225, and the average commercial tax bill will be $32,086.

With the adopted CIP shift, the average single-family taxpayer will pay $15.20 per $1,000 home value assessment, according to Ron Mendes, town treasurer and assistant town administrator. The new tax rate is the lowest residential rate since the average $14.34 in 2009, he said.

The board also voted in favor of adopting a small commercial exemption of 10 percent of the value of qualifying parcels. To qualify, commercial properties must have an annual employment of fewer than 10 employees and an assessed property value of less than $1 million, according to Mendes. The town’s Board of Assessors named 28 small businesses as eligible for the exemption.

The commercial exemption works by increasing taxes on all of the other commercial properties, said Mendes. The 28 businesses that qualify for the exemption will only pay 90 percent of their taxes with the other commercial properties picking up the rest of the tab, he said.

The two tax adoptions are the same ones the board voted in favor of during last year’s Tax Classification Hearing.

“I think it achieved what we hoped to achieve,” said Selectman Don Hause.

While the Board of Selectmen applauded the town’s team effort in decreasing taxes, they each stated confusion on how the Board of Assessors assess properties and neighborhoods in town.

The total assessment of the 3,459 single-family homes is $2,052,999,200 in 2019, compared to this year’s $1,958,006,900 for 3,453 homes. For the 99 commercial properties in town, the total assessment is $155,460,066, compared to 2018’s $140,489,144 for 94 properties.

“We need to understand the things that impact assessments and assessed values on these properties,” said Selectmen Chair Peter Spellios. “We really need to help people understand the other side of tax rate, which is assessed value, because that’s the one thing that never gets discussed. We need to shine more light on how the process works.”

Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald and the selectmen agreed the town could, in the future, benefit from a long presentation by the Board of Assessors about how properties are assessed.

“At the end of the day, we want full and fair market values for all our properties,” said Fitzgerald.


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