Pat DeCosta, the chair of Marion’s Board of Assessors, and Associate Assessor Linda Dessert appeared before the Select Board during the latter’s November 23 meeting to continue a Classification Hearing originally opened on November 16.
“It would be a real burden on the business to split the tax rate, and the Board (of Assessors) would recommend a single tax rate,” said DeCosta, noting that Marion’s property is 93 percent residential.
In referring to a spread sheet provided the Select Board members by Dessert, Town Administrator Jay McGrail explained that a split tax rate would provide only limited benefit to residential taxpayers but, at the same time, prove devastating to business owners in town.
The spreadsheet displayed averages for homes valued at $200,000, $300,000 and $400,000.
A $400,000 home would be taxed $4,340 in a single-rate scenario and $4,180 in a split-rate scenario, an annual savings of $160. But a $400,000 business that would be taxed $4,340 in a single-rate scenario would pay $6,512 in a split-rate scenario, a negative swing of $2.172.
The split-rate hit on a $300,000 business would be $4,884 (a $1,629 difference), and the split-rate hit on a $200,000 business would be $3,256 (a $1,086 difference). Split-rate property tax on a $300,000 home would save that property owner $120, and the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $80 less.
The spreadsheet gave added real examples.
The Marion General Store, valued at $735,800, would pay $7,983.43 in annual property tax in a single-rate system but $11,978,82 in a split-rate system, a $3,995.39 difference.
Burr Bros. Inc., a boat company valued at $9,601,810, would pay $104,179.63 via single rate but $156,317.46 via the split rate, a difference of $52,137.83.
“I’m good with (the single tax rate), we want to encourage businesses, not chase them out of Marion,” said Select Board member John Waterman, whose background is in finance.
Select Board member Randy Parker noticed that the tax rate also dropped to $10.85 per $1,000, a decrease from $11.32. DeCosta said it is a 4.2 percent decrease from last year.
“We’ve come down in two years almost a whole dollar,” said McGrail.
Waterman identified overrides coming off, and McGrail said values are also going up.
Noting the hard work put in during the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Parker applauded the Assessors for “getting it done.”
Waterman echoed Parker’s sentiment and the Select Board voted unanimously to accept the single-tax rate.
In other business, the board voted to approve a Common Victualler License for Harriet’s Catering, which has reopened at 7 Cottage Street, the former location of Sweet Pea Kitchen. The license is good for the rest of 2021.
McGrail said Harriet’s, which already had official approval from the Board of Health, will also appear on the Select Board’s next agenda for its 2022 approval.
A Pie and Poinsettia pickup for Marion seniors will be held on Saturday, December 11, at Cushing Community Center, courtesy of the Town of Marion, the Brotherhood and Tabor Academy. Those interested are asked to sign up ahead of time with Council on Aging Director Karen Gregory.
The Select Board will meet on Tuesday, December 14, at 6:00 pm at the Cushing Community Center, followed by a Holiday Party for town employees.
Marion Select Board
By Mick Colageo