It appears it will take another year before the average bill for Belmont property taxpayers hits the five figure mark.
The Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, Dec. 17 approved a request by the town's three-member Board of Assessors' to decrease the tax rate on all property in the "Town of Homes" in fiscal 2013 by two cents from the current $13.35 per $1,000 of assessed value to $13.33.
But as the rates have fallen, the fair market value for Belmont properties has increased over the past year, and with that rise comes a higher tax bill.
So how does a residential tax bill sent to Belmont property owners compare to those from around the region? At the very least, Belmont can lay claim to be paying some of the highest tax bills in the state and the US.
According to a report generated by Robert Reardon, chairman of the Board, the tax assessment on single family homes for fiscal 2013 (which will be reflected in quarterly bills sent to residents on Jan. 1, 2013) will be $9,237.69 on the median value of residential properties of $693,000.
But using the Massachusetts Department of Revenue's statistics that calculates the average value of Belmont property, the average tax bill for Belmont owners will hit $9,948.78.
Compared to surrounding towns and cities, only Lexington property taxpayers can claim the honor of paying higher residential property taxes than Belmont:
2013 Residential Property Tax Rates and Average BillsTown
Tax BillArlington $13.61 $6,842 Belmont $13.33 $9,948 Cambridge $8.66 $4,298 Lexington $15.20 $10,906 Newton $11.49 $9,258 Waltham $13.49 $3,952 Watertown $14.40 $4,730
Source: Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
Where Belmont and many surrounding towns differ in collecting property taxes is in requiring commerical owners to pay at a higher rate and take on a greater tax bite. For example, Watertown requires commercial owners to pay at $27.15 per $1,000 with Newton's at $21.93 and Cambridge using $21.50 per thousand.
The split rate allows Cambridge – with great numbers of commercial properties in Kendall Square and Alewife – to keep residential rates low and homeowner bills relatively stable; for the past three years, real estate taxes increasing by about $100 a year for three quarters of homeowners as commercial properties take on 65 percent of the city's tax burden.
Arlington and Belmont does not shift the bud as the amount of commercial property – less than five percent in Belmont – is so limited that residents would only see a modest decreases while slamming mostly small businesses in town.