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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West Side Residents Build Ideal Neighborhood At Zoning Session

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Program manager James McGrath opens the session at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents mapped out a West Side they would like to see during an input session this week, utilizing multi-use properties to create robust density.

Held at Conte Community School on Monday, this was the second meeting of a project to examine zoning in the neighborhood. The Department of Community Development, in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been working with an urban planning and design consulting team on the effort that will conclude on June 30.

"This is a really important project for your neighborhood," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

Multifamily houses with spaces to accommodate a small business were popular. A community center, church, year-round farmer's market, and even a place to draw in commerce appeared as elements on the tabletop street.

An emphasis was also placed on the amount of immigrants coming to the area in need of housing.

Max Douhoure, community outreach coordinator for Habitat, explained that he grew up in Africa where people liked to live together, which his build reflected.

"I wanted to improve their conditions," he said. "That’s what I did."

During the first meeting in November, the team heard desires for businesses and commercial uses — including a need for small, family-owned business support. The session provided an overview of what zoning is, what zoning can and can't do, how zoning can improve the community, and the impact on residents.

"Today's exercise is really about creating spaces in buildings and on properties to do a combination of residential [uses] that meet the needs and commercial uses that meet the needs of the neighborhood,"  Emily Keys Innes, principal of Innes Associates explained.

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