WINCHESTER - In what could be record time, mostly due to the inclement weather, the Select Board approved a tax factor of 1.0. This means there won’t be a tax shift onto commercial property owners; they’ll pay the same tax rate as residential property owners (minus Ch. 110 which adds a few extra pennies onto residential tax bills).

Assessor Dan McGurl told the board the tax rate keeps going up, this time because of the override passed in the spring. He said the average tax rate for a single-family home is $14,297 with an average assessment of $1,153,972.

The overall tax rate will be approximately $11.80 for all classes before Ch. 110 adds another 59 cents to the residential rate increasing it to $12.39. He mentioned how the general budget override increased the tax levy by $10M; however, this year the town is only spending $6.3M. The increase added $888 to the average single-family tax bill.

Additionally, the board took no action on questions 2 - 4, which includes open space, a residential exemption and the small commercial exemption.

The open space discount question is not valid because the board does not qualify any space as open space in town.

The residential exemption is a progressive tax that reduces the taxes on lower assessed properties and increases taxes on higher assessed properties. This discount can be up to 20 percent of the average assessed value in the residential class. This exemption is utilized in cities and resort areas that have either apartment buildings or seasonal properties that do not qualify as owner occupied.

The small commercial exemption is similar to the residential exemption in that it applies a reduction in that class of property and raises taxes for other properties in that class.

The town hasn’t shifted the tax burden since 1984, mostly because it has only four percent commercial properties. Other communities that don’t shift include Weston, Wellesley, Reading, Concord, Belmont, and Arlington. Out of those, Wellesley has the most commercial properties at 13 percent. Winchester’s neighbor, Stoneham, has 17 percent commercial properties and shifts the burden 1.72.

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