Tax Rate Down, Property Values Up

“People want to be here,” said Kathleen Costello, principal assessor for Mattapoisett in a lead up to meeting with the Board of Selectmen for a public hearing to set the tax rate during the November 29 meeting.

Earlier in the day, Costello explained that in spite of level spending and a projected lower tax rate, many homeowners would still see an increase in their property tax bills starting in January. She said that even though there has been a decrease in buyers seeking properties in flood zones, cash sales have continued to keep that segment strong. The bigger surprises came in neighborhoods with proximity to waterfront locations and views.

Costello noted that nearly all neighborhoods in town saw strong home sales driving up the values, some as much as 35 percent. Using real estate sales between January 2015 and December 2015 coupled with on-site evaluations, the head assessor said, “It’s all about being consistent,” adding, “…for a little town, we have a lot going on.”

At the public meeting with the selectmen, Costello stated, “Values are going up dramatically.” She reported that the average home value is now an impressive $466,640, an increase of 4.7 percent over FY16. Costello calculates that the average single-family dwelling tax bill is projected to be $6,108.32, an increase of 3.5 percent.

Costello said that no single style of home saw greater demand than another, translating to higher values that in turn translate to higher assessed value.

But Costello also confirmed, “The tax rate is going down.” This good news is directly related to new growth in the community.

In a handout, Costello wrote, “The assessed value of the new construction and personal property new growth that took place during the 12 month period from December 31, 2014 to December 31, 2015 is $16,954,857. This translates into $212,438 of increased tax levy capacity over the basic limits of Proposition 2.5 and is a 28 percent decrease over last year’s figure.”

            The new tax rate will be set at $13.09 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The previous rate was $13.20. The board also elected to keep a single tax rate, since to do otherwise, “would really hurt our businesses,” Costello said. The town runs on the 96 percent of tax income it receives from non-commercial property owners.

Earlier in the day, Costello pointed to another area of good news. She explained that the impact of solar projects is positive cash flow into the town coffers. Costello said that due to the PILOT programs established with the owners of these projects, the town benefits from structured payments made over a long period of time. The sum paid is greater than that which the town would have received from land classified as undeveloped.

In other news, Town Administrator Michael Gagne said that he has received quotes from engineering firms for the village road design work approved at town meeting recently. He said a decision would be forthcoming on which firm won the bidding and that once 10 percent of design is achieved, there will be a public meeting to get input. He thanked the people who attended town meeting for supporting this critical expenditure.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is scheduled for December 13 at 6:30 pm in the town hall conference room.

By Marilou Newell


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