The council voted 6-3 to approve the shift after nearly 90 minutes of debate focused on the fairness of shifting the tax burden toward the residential during Tuesday's annual tax classification hearing. Councilors advocated for lowering the shift to help business as an economic driver while the no votes said it was unfair to further burden homeowners.
The board members approved a 115 percent split that represents a 74 cent increase on the residential side and a 90 increase on the commercial side of the tax rate at Wednesday's tax classification hearing.
The 11 percent jump in the tax rate is largely because of the $1 million borrowing approved at town meeting in May. The borrowing to address a number of capital projects is excluded from Proposition 2 1/2 but the tax impact will only last five years.
The City Council on Tuesday approved to continue a split tax rate and to set the commercial shift at 1.71. That will reduce the residential tax rate to $18.62 per $1,000 valuation, down 49 cents over last year, and the commercial/industrial rate at $40.67, down 94 cents from last year.
Barbara Astorino, chairman of the Board of Assessors, addressed the board at the tax classification hearing. Although no specific tax rate was made available to the public, the board decided to go with a single tax rate as it has always done.
Williams College President Maud S. Mandel was in front of the Select Board on Monday to discuss the school's strategic planning process, which includes soliciting input from a broadly defined group of stakeholders that includes students, alumni, faculty, staff and members of the community Williams calls home.
After nearly 90 minutes of discussion, the council voted 8-1 to keep the property tax shift at 1.71. It took the council some time to struggle through amending the order submitted by the mayor's office.
The council will vote on the tax classification for fiscal 2019 on Tuesday. Should the council approve, the commercial, industrial and personal property shift will go from 1.71 back to 1.73, where it had been for several years.