Town Crier

WILMINGTON — In continuation from the meeting on Nov. 22, the Board of Selectmen completed the 2022 tax classification public hearing this past Mon­day night. Principal Asses­sor Karen Rassias describ­ed in the previous meeting that the purpose was to determine the percentages of the tax levy to be taken on by residential and commercial/industrial property for fiscal year 2022.

While she didn’t have all the data at the time that she needed to give the Board of Assessor’s recommendation, she did note that the average single family home value (as measured in 2020) had increased this year by sev­en percent. The increases in other sectors were 4.5 percent commercial, 14 per­cent industrial, and 23 percent personal property.

This past Monday, she brought forward the recommendation of 175 percent shift.

“This allows the town to accept an equitable amount of taxes from all sectors,” she said.

Should the board choose this shift, she reported that residents would see an average increase of $64 in single family tax, and commercial properties an ave­rage of $6,000. Rassias re­minded the community that this number was just an average and not an ex­act calculation per resident.

The other options available for the board to vote on would be not to shift at all, which would cause an average residential increase of $2,319 and commercial de­creasing by $25,000; and 150 percent shift, with a residential increase of $819 and commercial decreasing by $4,500. Last year, by comparison, the average in­crease for residential tax per the shift was $144.

Selectman Greg Bendel shared his support for the recommendation of the Board of Assessors.

“No one likes to see taxes go up, including the people at this table,” he said.

He pointed out that this year’s tax increase was $80 lower than last year’s. Ras­sias added the town hasn’t seen so small of an in­crease since 2010.

Chair Lilia Maselli asked if commercial businesses taking on a large increase was normal, which Ras­sias said was the case in a few other communities. She al­so said it depends on the types of commercial property in town, compared to Burlington which has different businesses.

“This is typically what happens: a residential mar­ket outpaces a commercial market.”

Judy O’Connell mention­ed that she’s seen the town make the maximum shift as long as she’s been in­volved in town. She did want to be cognizant of keep­ing Wilmington an at­tractive place for businesses to come, asking if Rassias knew of the high commercial tax rate dissuading businesses. The answer Rassias heard from some business owners is that the rent in Wilmington is a little low­er, so the tax rate kind of evens it out. Another pro that Wilmington offers is more available space.

O’Connell also talked about the fact that higher property value leads to taxes going up. She mentioned that new construction in town is in the million-dollar price point.

“I don’t see a shift in the complexion of the town happening,” she continued.

Some areas where Ras­sias predicted activity next year were around Darby Lane, Green Meadow Drive, and Jonspin Road. She al­so suggested that residential property values will continue to increase next year. As for industrial areas, she said she doesn’t see a lot of growth next year. She explained that houses can be built in 3-4 months, but industrial buildings take longer than that.

She was concerned, however, with higher mortgages following higher property values and offers on houses with bidding wars. However, just be­cause a house receives a high offer doesn’t change its value in the eyes of the Department of Revenue. She said she sees property deeds come in for far above the assessed values.

Gary DePalma asked a question to clarify whe­ther the increase in taxes is related only to the in­crease in home values. Ras­sias answered to say that the report reflected the taxation based on proposed values of homes.

“It’s a mixed blessing I suppose, because if you’re a home owner, appreciation is a good thing, but the challenge with that is that tax bills will go up by some measure,” said Town Manager Jeff Hull. “The tax rate is actually going down.”

He also restated the fact that the tax increase discussed is just an estimate, and some will see an amount higher or lower than $64.

There was an opportunity for public comments, but none were made.

At that point, the board made a motion to shift the tax levy 175 percent as recommended by the Board of Assessors. They voted in favor and then closed the public hearing.

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