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North Adams' Commercial Tax Rate Likely to Break $40

Staff ReportsiBerkshires.com
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Thomas Bernard is recommending the City Council reverse last year's shift in the commercial rate in an effort keep the residential rate from rising higher. 
 
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.
 
The rate was shifted more toward the residential side last year to prevent CIP taxes from exceeding $40 per $1,000 valuation. If approved, the CIP rate would rise from $39.85 to $42.10 per $1,000 valuation.
 
Four communities, all in Western Massachusetts, were close to the $40 mark in fiscal 2018: Springfield ($39.28), Holyoke ($39.69), North Adams ($39.85) and Pittsfield ($39.98).
 
"While I am reluctant to reach this milestone, I believe the 1.73 shift represents the most equitable approach to apportioning tax obligations between residential and commercial taxpayers for this fiscal year," the mayor wrote in his communication to the council. 
 
The tax levy for this year is $17,651,077, an increase in levy of $744,487 order or 4.4 percent from fiscal 2018. There are 2,641 residential parcels and their property taxes account for 40 percent of the revenue to support the city budget. 
 
With a CIP shift of 1.73, the residential rate would rise 58 cents to $18.96 per $1,000 valuation, or just over 3 percent. This translates to about a $90 a year increase for an average single-family home assessed at $138,780, or a total bill of around $2,630.
 
Since 2015, the average home has risen about $2,500 in value and the bill by about $270. 
 
If the shift is kept at 1.71, the residential rate would be $19.11, increasing the average bill be $111, and the CIP rate would be $41.61.
 
"While we continue to manage our budget carefully this proposal represents use of the city's full levy capacity," Bernard wrote. "We remain $482,031 under the city's levy ceiling of $18,133,108. I request that Council adopt the accompanying order as presented."
 
The City Council will also hold a public hearing on the installation of underground gas tanks for the new Cumberland Farms planned for construction at the old City Yard.
 

Tags: fiscal 2019,   tax classification,   

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'Augmented Reality' Works Debut at This Week's First Friday

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — This month's First Friday event will offer a different way to engage with art: through augmented reality. 
 
The Public Arts Commission on Monday approved the installation of signage with QR codes that will give viewers the ability to see artwork overlays by John Craig Freeman and Michael Lewy on local venues. The works will go live Friday night during the Night Market on Eagle Street. 
 
"The art is augmented reality art. It exists in the virtual world, you cannot see it," said Anna Farrington, owner of Installation Space on Eagle Street that is hosting the exhibit. "The signs will communicate to viewers the QR codes that help you access the art and if you do not already have the QR app on your phone to look at the art, it will prompt you to download the Hoverlay app."
 
Farrington, chair of the commission, stepped away from her position on Monday to make the presentation. She said she had already spoken with Mayor Jennifer Macksey and Building Inspector William Meranti, who approved the project. All that was left was an endorsement from the commission for placing the signs on public property. 
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