Selectmen approve new tax rate

The average residential property tax bill will increase about $400 next year while the average commercial property tax bill will decrease by about $1,600 under new tax rates approved by the Board of Selectmen Monday night.

Why will commercial tax properties on average see a tax bill decrease? Because while residential home prices have skyrocketed over the past couple of year, the average commercial tax property in Abington has decreased in value. 

According to figures provided to selectmen by Deputy Assessor Yolanta Briffett, the average residential home valuation increased by more than $59,000 to $454,000. That figure is based on 2020 sales data, which is what the town is required to use to forumulate valuations. The average commercial property valuation, which topped $1 million last year, decreased in value by an average of $21,594 to $987,279.

The actual tax rate will drop from $16.48 per $1,000 of valuation to $15.22. The rate decrease, however, is offset by the residential valuation increase.

Outstanding long-term debt, for the Deputy Asssessor’s presentation to the Board of Selectmen

Briffett projects the average residential tax bill for the coming year will be $6,908.88, and $15,026.39 for commercial properties. Those figures do not include the 1.5 percent surcharge that is used to fund Community Preservation Act projects.

The town’s tax base consists of residential property, commercial property, industrial property, and personal property. The total tax levy can’t be increased by more than 2.5 percent under state law, not including any growth due to new construction or property improvements.

Residential property taxes make up 88.38 percent of the town’s total tax base. That figure dipped to about 85 percent in 2015, but has slowly crept back up as the amount of residential construction in town has outpaced commercial construction.  

Selectmen rejected the opportunity to approve a split tax rate, which would have hiked taxes on commercial and industrial properties. Shifting the tax rate as much as is allowed under state law would increase commercial tax bills by 50 percent while providing homeowners with a 6 percent savings. Selectman Alex Bezanson said splitting the tax rate didn’t seem smart while the town attempts to lure new businesses to town following the widening of Route 18.

Only five communities in Plymouth County have a split tax rate and commercial property valuations in those cities and towns make up, on average, 10 percentage points more of the tax base than in Abington.

[Editor’s Note: The author of this article, who is also a member of the Abington Planning Board, spoke during the public hearing to advocate for hiring a Town Planner next year in order to help grow the town’s commercial tax base.]

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