TOWNSEND — Thanks to a slight increase in property values, Townsend’s tax rate for fiscal year 2015 has gone down.
Last year taxpayers paid $19.57 per $1,000 in assessed value on real estate and personal property that includes large machinery and equipment, said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan. In 2015, that rate will be $19.11.
Property values increased slightly to $783 million since last year, but are still lower than before the recession, when the total value was around $950 million, he said. “I think we’ve hit the trough.”
He did not have the fiscal year 2014 total valuation amount during Tuesday’s selectmen meeting.
Taxpayers should not expect a decrease in their property tax bill even with a lower rate, said Chairwoman Sue Lisio.
“They equate that with their tax going down and that’s not how it works,” she said. The rate is lower, but the property is worth more.
Neither the town administrator nor the assessors said what the average tax bill will be for 2015.
In addition to the $15 million raised from the tax levy, an additional $4.8 million is expected from other sources such as projected new growth, local receipts from excise taxes, licenses and permits and state aid, according to the tax rate recapitulation prepared by the town for the state Department of Revenue.
Selectmen voted to keep a single tax rate for residential, commercial, industrial and personal property. Residential property taxes make up 90.5 percent of the levy, according to the recapitulation.
Sheehan and Selectman Carolyn Smart disagreed about whether Townsend taxpayers pay a higher than normal property tax.
“Our average tax bill is really good, really low, compared to other places,” Sheehan said.
After comparing similar communities grouped by population and budget size on the DOR website, Smart said that Townsend has one of the highest average tax bills.
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