Property taxes to rise in Northampton after tax rate set

  • Northampton City Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/8/2021 12:45:30 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The City Council has set a single tax rate for all categories of property for the current fiscal year, and the average residential tax bill is expected to rise about 8.6%.

The city’s tax rate for the previous fiscal year was $17.37 per $1,000 of assessed property value. During a presentation to the council on Thursday, Principal Assessor Marc Dautreuil said the rate will rise to $17.89 per $1,000. The average single-family home in the city is assessed at $352,329, according to the assessors’ office.

“We’ve had a pretty large increase in property values. We’ve had a steady increase, but we had a large increase last year to this year, mainly in the residential section,” Dautreuil said. “The values of homes skyrocketed in large part due to a lack of homes for sale and a high demand.”

The city expects to collect $56.8 million from residential properties and about $13.3 million in the commercial, industrial and personal property category, called CIP. This fiscal year’s city budget is $121.7 million, up 4.8%, or $5.6 million, from the previous year.

The Proposition 2½ override approved by voters in 2020 to cover an existing budget shortfall and possible future shortfalls, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will start affecting tax bills this fiscal year, while the debt burden left by the construction of the police station on Center Street will be satisfied in fiscal 2032. Those costs total $620,476 of the tax levy.

The scheduled closure of the Coca-Cola bottling plant is expected to affect the tax levy starting in fiscal 2024.

Even though tax bills are sent quarterly, the first two bills of the year are actually estimates based on the previous fiscal year’s tax rate, while the third and fourth incorporate the new rate set by the City Council, said David Murphy, chairman of the Board of Assessors.

Dautreuil laid out the argument that a single tax rate is best for the city, rather than a split rate that would tax each category of property differently. The council unanimously agreed.

“In the best of economies, I wouldn’t recommend splitting the tax rate in the city of Northampton, let alone right now,” Dautreuil said.

Several councilors, including At-Large Councilor Bill Dwight, said the state’s tax laws are “regressive,” and do not tax people based on their ability to pay. Ward 3 Councilor James Nash decried significant cuts in local aid over the past 20 years, which is forcing the city to rely more on property taxes.

The city had $63.3 million in new growth last fiscal year, which includes the value of new construction, renovations and additions, Dautreuil said. That dollar amount was split nearly evenly between the residential and CIP categories.

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