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Adams to See a Tax Rate Decrease With Increased Values

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday will decide the town's tax classification, which will determine the residential and business tax rates.
Assessor Paula Wheeler told the board at its workshop meeting  on Monday that a single tax rate would be $21.95 for fiscal 2022.
The workshop meeting was in preparation for the tax classification hearing Wednesday when the Selectmen will vote on a rate shift that would split the amount relatively between commercial and residential.
"Do we want to shift more toward the commercial or less on to the residential?" Town Administrator Jay Green said. "The question is where is that shift ... it is always a tough conversation but we have always had a shift."
The fiscal 2021 single tax rate would have been $23.38. The Selectmen set a 115 split in fiscal year 2021 that set a residential tax rate of $22.62 and a commercial tax rate of $26.89 per $1,000 valuation.
If the Selectmen were to approve the same shift. the residential tax rate would be $21.26 and the commercial tax rate would be $25.24.
Wheeler said the town is seeing a decreased rate because homes are selling higher than valued Wheeler gave a total fiscal 2022 valuation of $571,094,197. 
"That increases the valuation of every other single-family home in Adams," she said. "This is happening across the state."
Although the tax rate is likely to go down, Wheeler warned that residents could still see an increased tax bill as valuations increase.
"The rate is going down, but the value is coming up so just because the rate is going down it does not mean the tax bill will be less," she said.
She gave the example that a home valued at $149,000 is now closer to $166,000.
The Selectmen did not go too deep into potential shifts but Wheeler said it would take a very substantial shift to move the rate to a level that would actually decrease the average residential tax bill. She said legally they can only shift the rate so far.
In other businesses, the Selectmen heard from members of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and Mass Audubon who presented elements of the Municipality Vulnerability Program, specifically programs related to climate resiliency and maintaining forest health.
"I think we are in a time now where we have to do what we can to immediately address climate change and solve a problem that has been going on every day and is getting worse every day," Selectman Joseph Nowak said. "What can the town do to better the environment."
The group touched on Climate Smart Forestry, that helps manage forests and help them adapt to climate change. The program looks to mitigate climate change by implementing carbon storage methods.
They also discussed the Family Forest Carbon Program, which pays private landowners to implement carbon forestry practices.
The group went over a list of current and developing programs and practices but outlined five specific ones, some of which there is funding available. 
These include: Growing older forests, create gaps to encourage forest regeneration, and thinning.
Other practices have to deal with lessening threats from deer and invasive species. 

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Adams Altering Two Precincts to Reflect Changes in Population

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen last week voted to alter Precincts 2 and 3 to better match population. This won't change the number of town meeting members but it will change the voting precinct for one.
Town Clerk Haley Meczywor presented new Census data to the board Wednesday and said with a decrease of 299 residents over a 10-year period, the state has recommended that the town change the borders of the two precincts.
"In order to make our precincts as equal as possible, the state is recommended that we make a minor change from Precinct 3 to Precinct 2," she said.
The last Census was done in 2010. Then, the population count was 8,485. In 2020, the count was 8,166 — a 299 decrease. 
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