This past week the Ayer Board of Selectmen were discussing how to shift the tax burden on homeowners. In the article it is suggested that the average tax increase for a home would be $122 for next year. The meeting was reported in the Lowell Sun. I would encourage you to read it. During the discussion Selectman Carolyn McCreary stated the following in regards to the prospect of raising property taxes for homeowners:
“McCreary discounted the notion that much consideration is given to a tax rate before opting to shopping for a community. “Did you come here because of the rate?” she asked her peers. “I came to live in Ayer because Ayer had a pond and I wanted to live on a pond.”
Well I also wanted to live on a pond. But living on a pond and paying increased property taxes are not mutually exclusive. Like many of my friends and neighbors, I actually bought a house on a pond. But through the Town’s chronic neglect and misplaced priorities, the pond is reverting to a swamp.
Now the fascinating thing about Proposition 2 1/2 is this: You can only increase the total previous year tax base by 2.5%. You can also add new growth on top of that. An example of new growth would be new homes or factories that have been developed since the prior year.
So if last year’s property tax revenue was $25M, (assume no new growth for this illustration) then the most taxes could rise would be $625,000 to be distributed proportionally across all tax payers, based upon the valuation of their properties. If property values drop, the Town simply increases the rate per thousand and the revenue stays at $25M + 2.5% = $25,625,000.
But Ayer has a split tax rate, so Commercial/Industrial properties presently pay a higher rate than homeowners do. Now, it would be perfectly within the bounds of Prop 2 1/2 to reduce the Commercial rate and increase the Residential rate, thus shifting the tax burden to homeowners. This is in fact what is being proposed. In fact it has been happening for several years.
I am just a cranky old man who detests paying taxes – period. (Even if I do live on a pond)