North Adams sets tax rate with residential increase of 4.2%


NORTH ADAMS >> The City Council voted unanimously this week to set the new residential property tax rate at $17.39 per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning a tax increase of $65 on the average single-family property, assessed at $134,500.

The council approved Mayor Richard Alcombright's proposal to maintain the 1.71 tax shift on commercial, personal and industrial property, slightly less than the 1.75 maximum shift allowable under state law.

The new residential rate is an increase of 4.2 percent over last year.

The commercial tax rate will see an increase from $36.03 per $1,000 to $37.93 per $1,000 in 2016.

Tuesday's vote finalized how the city will fund the $38.57 million fiscal 2016 budget, a 2.25 percent increase over fiscal 2015. The spending plan passed earlier this year.

The overall local tax levy increased 4.75 percent in fiscal 2016 to $15,732,057, the limit set under state Proposition 2½.

"As we establish this CIP shift, we are assuring our community that we will be able to provide services at acceptable levels," Alcombright wrote in a letter to the City Council.

While there were questions about the valuation of city property, there was no discussion or debate among councilors on adjusting the shift ratio. If the council has shifted the burden on commercial properties as much as allowed by the law, the planned $65 average residential bill increase would narrow to $30.

Though the city did see a nearly $4 million increase in assessed personal property and industrial property value, the total assessed value of residential and commercial and industrial property declined since last year.

Residential property value saw the sharpest decline since last year, dropping from $550,769,529 to $543,776,097.

"It's a combination of things, and primarily it's the market," said city Assessor Ross Vivori on the decline in residential values. "When we reviewed the market over the past 24 months, looking at just arm's length sales, the sales weren't there to justify an increase in the market value."

In total, the city's valuation base dropped from $712,068,051 in fiscal 2015 to $709,233,263 in fiscal 2016.

Councilor Wayne Wilkinson abstained from voting on the proposal, which passed by a 6 to 0 margin. Councilors Joshua Moran and Jennifer Breen were not present.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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