The Burlington Select Board set the FY22 tax rate during its meeting on Monday evening and Burlington residential homeowners will see an increase in their bill.
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 fiscal 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 Gary Gianino 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 last May when they passed the budget. This amount normally goes up each year and this year was no exception. In FY21 the levy was $123,821,673 and the FY22 levy is at $129,801,144 a 4.83 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.
When figuring out what option among those presented to pursue, the board members can see how each split would impact the average residential tax bill and how much it would increase or decrease the amount paid by businesses. Most of the options are what Member Nick Priest called “responsible” but the financial team does include some options that are more extreme as a way of illustrating the full range of possibilities. For example, eliminating the split rate altogether would greatly lower taxes on businesses but would see an average increase in residential bills rise by more than $4,300. On the other extreme, shifting the burden sharply to the business community would mean residents are paying less than the year before but would almost certainly damage commercial owners’ ability to stay open.
In the end the Board went with a more middle-of-the-road option, listed as Option A. This option kept the split rate almost at the same level as last year. In FY21 the business side paid 62.34 percent of the levy share and it will take on the same level of the burden in FY22. Residents will continue to pay $9.95 per $1,000 on their property, the same as last year, but due to an increase in assessed home values the average resident will see a $263.67 increase on their bill, an increase of 4.82 percent.
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.