Average Dalton Property Bill Rises 7%

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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DALTON, Mass. — The Select Board voted to maintain a single tax rate, as it has done in the past, during its meeting on Thursday night. 
All types of properties within the town, whether residential, commercial, or industrial, will be taxed at the same rate.
"In a town this size, splitting the tax rate and shifting the burden onto the commercial, which would include classified forest, farm, and recreational lands, industrial and personal properties in town, we believe would have an adverse effect, unlike in larger communities that have big businesses that can more easily accept the tax increase due to the shift in rates," Assessor's Clerk Lee Nunez said.  
The Board of Assessors has recommended a single tax rate for a number of years because more that 90 percent of the taxes generated are from residential homes, Select Board member John Boyle said in a follow up. The town has a very limited industrial and business portion of its assessed value.
The value of the average single-family home was $271,929 in fiscal year 2023; this is projected to increase to $314,926.
The town's tax rate is projected to be $17.01, which is down $1.36 per $1,000 of assessed value. Although the tax rate is down, the tax bill is projected to increase because spending has increased.  
Residential property values have increased by 16 percent, commercial values by 8 percent, and industrial values by 3 percent.
The average single family tax bill will increase by $361.55, bringing it to $5,356.89 from last year's $4,995.34. 
The board voted not to have a residential exemption, as recommended by the Board of Assessors. 
This exemption would have taxed properties such as rental properties, and summer and vacation homes at a higher rate. 
"Of the 351 municipalities in the commonwealth, only 16 opted for the residential exemption four years ago with none of the communities located in the Berkshires," Nunez said. 
The municipalities which opted for the residential exemption were large cities and towns that had many "non-owner-occupied properties like apartment buildings or resort communities with many seasonal residents," he said. 
The town's excess levy capacity is down $330,296.32 from last year bringing it to $864,386.07 for fiscal 2024. The town takes this figure into consideration when developing the budget. The town's total taxable value has increased to $895,322,865 from $784,136,614 in fiscal 2023. 
When the town is developing the budget it needs to be under the excess levy capacity by a healthy amount because in the case of an emergency they may need to tax more to generate some funds, Town Manager Thomas Hutcheson said in a follow up. 

Tags: fiscal 2024,   property taxes,   tax classification,   

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Pittsfield Firefighters Snuff Cellar Blaze

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters extinguished a fire in a West Housatonic Street in about 20 minutes. 
The blaze started near a dryer but the cause was being investigated.
The department responded to the call of smoke in a building at about 12:23 p.m. on Sunday. Upon arrival, firefighters found a light smoke showing from the front and back of the building. 
The found an active fire in the basement of the 2 1/2-story, wood-frame structure at 92 West Housatonic, which is being rented as a single-family occupancy.
Engine 1 crew advanced a 1 3/4-inch hose to the rear of the building, entered the bulkhead access to the cellar, and conducted suppression activities. Engine 3 crew conducted a primary search of the building. Engine 6 secured a water supply to E1 and Tower 1 ventilated the building. Engine 5 responded as the Rapid
Intervention Team for firefighter safety.
The fire was under control and extinguished in 20 minutes. At the time of this writing there were no civilian or firefighter injuries reported. 
Fire damage was confined to the laundry area in the cellar with the dryer unit, clothing, and household cleaning supplies sustaining damage. There was minimal smoke damage with the entire building being ventilated in short order.
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