November 19 2019

FY2020 Tax Rate: Residents to See Slight Increase Despite Lower Rate

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen set the FY20 tax rate during its meeting on Monday evening and while property owners will see lower rates they will overall see a rise in their tax bills due to higher assessments.


The board held its annual Tax Classification Hearing and set the residential and C.I.P. (commercial, industrial, personal property) property tax rates for the following year.


Burlington has a split tax rate, meaning that residents pay one amount and commercial, industrial and personal property owners, effectively meaning businesses in town, pay another rate. The big decision for the board is how to split the tax burden between residents and businesses.


Board members had a variety of options to choose from, presented by Town Appraiser James Doherty, Town Treasurer Brian Curtin and Town Accountant John Danizio. 


The first major factor is setting the tax rates to meet the tax levy to keep services, pay town employees and make payments on debt, among other expenses. The amount of the levy was approved by Town Meeting in May when they passed the budget.  This amount normally goes up each year and this year was no exception. In FY19 the levy was $112,128,115 and for FY20 it is $117,292,075 a 4.61 percent increase.


The next consideration was the split tax rate and how much of the burden to put on the residents and how much on commercial properties. When deciding on how to set the split between the residential and commercial tax rates, the board weighs its desire to keep the residential rate low so as not to burden residents but also does not want to raise the commercial rate so much that it would slow economic growth.


The board went with “Option B” from the list of options presented them, which kept the split almost exactly the same as before. In FY19 the business side paid for roughly 62.1 percent of the levy share and in FY20 they will cover 62.3 percent. The residential share is 37.6


 Under this option both the residential and commercial rates went down slightly. Residents will now pay $9.66 per $1,000 of assessed value as opposed to $10.48 in FY18. Commercial taxpayers will pay $25.54 per $1,000 of assessed value as opposed to $27.22 in the previous year.


However, due to rising value assessments the average tax bill will increase in FY20 over FY19. In FY19 the average residential home was valued at $502,500 and in FY20 it is valued at 567,000, a 12.84 percent increase. 


This means that in FY20 the average homeowner will see a roughly $199 increase in their property taxes. The average residential bill for the year will be $5,465.88. 


The town’s financial team pointed out that if Burlington did not have a split tax rate and both residents and businesses paid the same rate the average residential tax bill would be $7919. 


Finally, those on Burlington’s financial team said that compared to almost all neighboring communities the tax rate in town is lower. Out of Burlington and eight other communities only Woburn has a lower rate than Burlington.


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