ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen are prepared to set a tax rate on Wednesday night that could see residential property taxes rise anywhere from 63 cents to $1.70.
The board will hold its public hearing on the tax rate beginning at 7:15 p.m., during its regular Wednesday meeting at Town Hall. Last year's tax rates were $18.25 per $1,000 valuation for residential and $21.67 for commercial.
Tax rates have gone up in the last couple years in part because of declining property values — as the value goes down the rate goes up to maintain the amount of revenue required to meet budget demands. Assessor Donna MacDonald explained last year that the assessments were based largely on home sales, which had dropped by 5 percent
After a precipitous dip of nearly $30 million between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013, total property values increased by $743,986 to $466 million. Fiscal 2013 also was a revaluation year.
While property values rose, so did the budget, which will require a levy of $9.6 million, up from $8.7 million in fiscal 2013.
The Selectmen will have several options — to set a single tax rate or to continue the split commercial/residential rate with a percentage tax shift.
The town's current rates have a 15 percent shift toward commercial. Over the past 20 years, the shift has ranged from 14 percent to 35 percent.
If the town went with a single rate, the tax rate would be $20.60 per $1,000 valuation.
Continuing the split and keeping the current shift of 15 percent toward commercial, the rate would be $19.95 for residential (up $1.70) and $23.69 (up $2.02). At the highest shift of 40 percent, the commercial rate would jump to $28.84 and the residential rate to $18.88.
The assessors put the average single-family home at $134,000 and a fiscal 2014 tax bill at $2,605 keeping the shift at 15 percent.
The tax bill for an Adams homeowner would likely be less than comparable homes in Pittsfield but higher than one in North Adams. Adams currently has the fourth highest commercial rate in the county behind Pittsfield, North Adams and Florida, in that order.