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Assessors Regina DiLego and Kelly Tolisano presented the tax options to the Board of Selectmen Monday night.

Lanesborough Sticks With Single Tax Rate For Fiscal 2018

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen are sticking with a single tax rate for both commercial and residential properties.
Assessor Kelly Tolisano said the tax rate will be increasing by 51 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate is now $21.40, which reflects an increase of just short of 2.5 percent. 
"Around 1 percent, give or take, I relate to the new high school. This is the last year we will have a bump for the new high school. I think it will flat line," said Town Manager Paul Sieloff.
Tolisano said the average residential home is valued at $221,994, which increased from last year by $4,116. For the average home, the bill will increase by $199.20 this year — for a total bill of $4,750.67. But, individual bills will vary depending on the assessment of the property.
"Everybody is not going to see a $200 increase in their tax bill," Tolisano said.
The Selectmen had the option Monday night of shifting the tax burden toward more commercial. However, Tolisano said 82 percent of the total value is residential, so a shift to commercial wouldn't make a substantial difference in the rates.
Sieloff said, "I don't like being No. 2 or 3 in the county for a tax rate" but he believes the rate will plateau somewhat in coming years.
He said over the last few years, the cost of the new middle and high school has contributed greatly to the growth in the tax rate. Annual costs will level out this year and the annual budgets have been growing very slightly. With the regionalization vote, Sieloff said there could be some savings, which will help curb future tax rate growths.
In other business, Sieloff reported that Charter's expansion of high-speed internet throughout town will not be completed by the end of the year. The company had to wire at least 96 percent of the town by the end of the year or 18 months after the agreement was signed to comply with a state grant.
The Massachusetts Broadband Institute had awarded Charter $1.6 million to expand broadband offerings in Lanesborough, Hinsdale, and West Stockbridge — three towns Charter had partially served.
"They are not going to hit the deadline of Dec. 31," Sieloff said.
Sieloff said the next deadline — the 18 months since the agreement was signed — at the end of February. But, that target could also be out of reach.
The issue has been getting access to the utility poles, Sieloff said. The company has been trying to secure the right licenses and approvals with Eversource and Verizon to add the cable wire to the poles. That hasn't happened, so Charter can't do the work on the poles. Sieloff said there are multiple applications pending to get access to some 450 poles.
"Charter has pretty much built out any area that already had service, which we figure is about 70 percent of the town," Sieloff said.
The town manager said Charter has made progress on underground access and the hope is for those licenses to be secured "in the next month or so." Sieloff said the company hasn't wavered from its commitment to expand the service and it plans to not only hit the 96 percent but exceed it.
"Unless they are way up in the woods, they're planning on getting everybody," Sieloff said.
Also on Monday, the Selectmen gave the managers of the Garden Grill a pass on recent violent incidents. The company had been brought before the Board of Selectmen a couple times because of a rash of problems in the parking lot.
However, the Selectmen feel the most recent incident wasn't the fault of the establishment and decided against taking any action against the liquor license.
Manager Armando Charis told the Selectmen he is taking steps to avoid trouble. He said he stopped having a disc jockey on Friday nights. On Saturday nights, there is still entertainment but he said there haven't been problems.
"I don't have anything going on Thursdays or Fridays, only Saturdays. Nothing has been happening. Saturdays have been good," Charis said.
Charis said he wasn't aware of the latest incident, which involved a patron being assaulted after leaving the establishment, until after the event. Police have previously said that the patron had an argument with the alleged assailants prior to visiting the establishment, and the assailants then assaulted the man in the parking lot.
"It happens in the parking lot at the end of the night. I didn't see anything. I heard about it from Police," Charis said.

Tags: fiscal 2018,   property taxes,   tax classification,   

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