BURLINGTON – Residential and commercial tax rates are set for another modest increase after the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the tax classification for Fiscal Year 2020 at its meeting last night.
The residential tax rate is expected to be $9.64, down from $10.48 in Fiscal Year 2019.
The town’s financial team presented the Board of Selectmen with the tax classification information of all the taxable property in Burlington. As is the case annually, the Selectmen formally opened tax classification matter as a public hearing.
Town Appraiser/Assistant Assessor James Doherty led the presentation and acknowledged the continued growth the town is experiencing again this year, much like the last 10 years, due to new construction, both commercially and residentially.
“This is again a situation developed in the marketplace and when you have a strong economy like we have had, people make investments and the town shares in that ability to potentially capture the value and revenue at some point and time,” Doherty said of the impact of the town’s sustained growth. “It is a healthy indication in terms of viability to continue providing the needs that Town Meeting deems need to be funded. It is a remarkable scenario for the town and reflects the copious amount of investments going on in Burlington.”
In terms of growth and economic standing, Burlington is in a “very good” situation with all the capacity at its disposal. The Department of Revenue most recently estimated the total value of Burlington is over $6 billion and the tax levy (the amount of money raised through property taxes) is over $105 million. All the tax levy plan options on the table for the Selectmen to approve were under the levy capacity by $12 million, which is a healthy situation for a community to be in. The tax levy for Fiscal Year 2020 checks in at 4.61 percent. The town’s “growth” in Fiscal Year 2020 is at $3,270,590.
Doherty went to talk about the process of shifting the tax rate, which is a community’s decision to either tax residents and commercial, industrial, and private properties (CIP) at a single rate or shift more of the tax burden onto the CIP properties and off the backs off residents, which is an option in Massachusetts and one Burlington has utilized in recent years.
“Our reports suggest Burlington will have a flexible rate and won’t want to retrench from that because it would be a substantial burden put on the residential tax payers,” reassured Doherty.
Under the approved tax rate option as recommended by the financial team, Doherty cited an example of the difference between a single rate and flexible rate. Following a flexible rate, with the average single-family home assessed at $567,000 (was $502,000 last year) in Burlington, the average tax bill for residents is over $5,466 with a $9.64 rate for residents. A single rate would see residents pay $8,930 on a home worth $567,000. That equates to over a $3,000 swing for residents when it comes to the difference between a flexible rate and single rate. The $9.64 increase for residential properties is one of the lower options available.
These tax rate figures are based on what was voted on at Town Meeting this past January and May, as the Fiscal Year 2020 tax rate was set. The budget guidelines set by Ways & Means are comprised of a 4.5 percent tax levy increase and 3.5 percent operating budget increase (blended for the schools and town).
When compared to approximately a dozen surrounding communities, Woburn is the only one with a lower residential tax rate than Burlington.
The Selectmen were appreciative of the financial team preparing and presenting the myriad of complex tax figures and statistics to them in a way that each could understand it.
“I appreciate you guys being here and getting this ready for us,” thanked Selectman Chair Joseph Morandi. “We thank you for all that your team does and making this easier for us.”
He added, “This town is in fantastic shape. What we provide to residents is incredible compared to other towns. Our amenities in town are fantastic.”
The Selectmen unanimously approved the tax classification as presented after closing the public hearing.