Tax bills in Hamilton will hold steady this year, the Board of Assessors said on Monday night as the Board of Selectmen set the town’s fiscal 2012 tax rate. In many cases, property owner's tax bills may actually drop.
A combination of a drop in town spending combined with a drop in home values means the tax rate will go up of value to $17.40.
But because the tax levy – the total amount of money to be collected by taxes – went down by $432,636, the average tax bill will also drop slightly.
The new tax rate is for fiscal 2012, which began on July 1. The new rate and assessments will show up on the third quarter tax bills.
“The amount of taxes you pay in the median range is going to stay stable,” said Finance Director Deborah Nippes-Mena.
The tax bill for the average value home will drop $141, according to data compiled by the Assessors and submitted to Selectmen on Monday night at . The tax bill for the median value home will drop by $1.35, from $6,797.79 to $6,796.44.
Officials generally use the median value, rather than the average, to show what the typical home will pay in taxes. The median is the middle home value if all the values are lined up from low to high. The average is often skewed upward by a small number of top value properties.
For fiscal 2012, the average single family home value is $461,200 while the median single family home value is $390,600 – meaning half the homes in Hamilton are worth less and the other half are worth more than $390,600.
Selectman Jeff Hubbard warned property owners that when they hear that the tax rate is going up from $17.19 to $17.40 it does not necessarily mean their individual tax bill will go up.
“When they see $17.40 they jump to conclusions,” Hubbard said.
The tax rate is only half of what determines the tax bill for an individual property. The other half is the property’s value. And those values have dropped.
“The tax levy is down and the valuations are down – but not proportionally – so the tax rate goes up,” Nippes-Mena said.
The total value of property in Hamilton dropped 3 percent in the past year, from $1.333 billion to $1.292 billion.
Selectmen also decided on Monday night to set the new tax rate the same for all property classes, including commercial and industrial property. Hamilton has 4 percent of its property as commercial, while towns are recommended to not consider a so-called tax shift unless at least 11 percent in commercial and industrial, according to Assessor Tina Zelano.
In local cities and towns, such as Beverly and , government leaders set two rates – a higher rate for commercial and industrial properties than residential properties. Even if Hamilton chose to make the move, Zelano said it would be stuck with some the tax shift for at least two years.
“We don’t have the (commercial) base,” said Selectman Marc Johnson, later adding: “We are still in the mode where we want more business to come.”
Selectman Jeff Stinson wondered why communities similar to Hamilton have decided to implement a tax shift.
“Sometimes it is a bad decision,” Zelano said.Year Tax Rate 2010 $16.29 2011 $17.19 2012 $17.40 Year Average Single Family Home Value Taxes 2011 $475,000 $8,165.25 2012 $461,200 $8,024.88 Year Median Single Family Home Value Taxes 2011 $395,600 $6,797.79 2012 $390,600 $6,796.44