Lanesborough Select Board OKs Single Tax Rate

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday voted to adopt a single tax rate that will mean the average homeowners' tax bill will go up by $107.
The tax rate will be $17 per $1,000 assessed value, down 67 cents from last year. 
This is the third year the rate has decreased but rising home values account for the increase in property taxes. On the other hand, the average commercial property tax bill will decrease by more than $400 due to devaluation.
Town Assessor Ross Vivori explained that over the last couple of years, people have been spending more on residential housing than commercial properties, which accounts for the discrepancy.
"They are overspending on residential," he said. "Whether that's all related to COVID, people moving from the cities to here, but that's driving that residential value up and you're just not seeing that on the commercial side so that's coming down and, of course, with the tax rate coming down, you're also seeing that being reflected in the commercial tax rate."
The average single-family home valued at $318,803 will have an annual tax bill of $5,420 in fiscal 2024. Last year, the average home was valued at $300,705 home and billed $5,313.
The average commercial property is valued at $525,450, a decrease from $528,697 in FY23, and will pay $8,933 in property taxes.
A single tax rate maintains a residential factor of 1. It allows for all classes of property to pay only their share of the tax levy without shifting the burden to any particular property class.
Select Board member Timothy Sorrell said many homeowners are wondering why they see an increase when businesses do not. He previously asked for information on a split tax rate in response to that concern.
Vivori confirmed that commercial properties also pay personal property tax on items. 
William Prendergast, who served for 12 years on the board, spoke in favor of a single rate. He wants to make sure that businesses have as fair of a shake as they can in today's economy.
"We went through this process every year and we decided after a lot of discussion that a single rate was most appropriate just because none of the rest applied," he said.
"All that going with a split rate would have done was put more pressure on the businesses and it really wasn't going to benefit the residents that much so we felt that it was appropriate to stay with a single rate."
The FY24 levy of $9,409,579 is a $282,754, or 3 percent, increase from the previous year and the total taxable value of the town is $553,504,681. The excess levy capacity is $1,785,200 with a maximum allowable levy of $11,194,780.
"We saw some pretty good growth in the town. We saw $16,757,189 in growth," Vivori reported.
"There was $1,602,000 in residential $2,272,900 industrial, and $12,882,289 in personal property. That growth times last year's tax rate generated $296,099 in tax revenue."
New growth is generated through the construction of new homes, additions, substantial remodels, or the creation of condos.

Tags: fiscal 2024,   property taxes,   tax classification,   

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Lanesborough Planning Board Mulls Town Meeting Proposals

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Residents will see a town meeting article to cap the size of an accessory dwelling units (ADU) but other Planning Board proposals are undecided.

On Tuesday, the board confirmed that a warrant article placing a 2,500-square-foot cap on the size of an accessory dwelling unit will be submitted for annual town meeting to consider. 

There were questions about a possible frontage reduction size for the residential agricultural zone and parameters for storage in front yards— both were tabled.

The ADU proposal is in response to the lack of housing availability in the community and is the second go-around.

Last year, voters rejected a proposal to remove the 900 square-foot cap on ADUs due to concerns that people would build large structures on their property. With this new cap, planners feel there is a chance of receiving support from townspeople.

Chair Joe Trybus explained that some opposing the change were not comfortable with the lack of limits, adding "I think putting this cap on it and presenting it the same way, we pretty much hit the nail on the head."

The board also discussed drafting a visual representation of the amended bylaw to help town meeting members better understand the proposed changes.

According to the town's code:

"Rear and side yards may contain accessory buildings or structures, provided they cover not more than 30 percent of the combined area of such yards and are located not less than 10 feet from any lot line. Front yards may contain accessory buildings or structures, provided they meet the front setback requirements of this bylaw, that they cover not more than 30 percent of the area between the front setback line and the front of the main building, and that they are located not less than 10 feet from either side lot line, where such is deemed necessary and not detrimental to the neighborhood."

This would would lift percentage requirements and just limit the second structure to 2,500 square feet.

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