The tax bill for the average Southborough family is going to go up by $392 this year, a 4.9% increase over last year. In approving the tax rate Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen said the increase reflects the will of Town Meeting.
The Board of Assessors calculates the annual tax rate at an amount that will generate enough revenue to cover the town’s budget. All things being equal, the bigger the budget, the higher the tax rate, and this year voters at Town Meeting approved a bigger budget than what was recommended by the Board of Selectmen.
“Town Meeting voiced its opinion that they were willing to spend more of their tax dollars,” Selectmen Bill Boland said last night. “Citizens that are not happy with that need to come to Town Meeting. This board has tried to keep these tax levels down, but it all comes down to Town Meeting.”
Voters approved $570K more in expenditures than Selectmen recommended for the current fiscal year. The bulk of that funding went to the school budget.
The tax rate approved this week by selectmen is a single tax rate, so the $16.14 rate – up from $15.58 last year – applies to both residential and commercial property.
You might remember last year Selectman John Rooney initially took the position that businesses should pay a higher tax rate than residents, but he said the actions of Town Meeting this year changed his mind.
“If the temperature of the town is such that it’s willing to raise taxes at town meeting, I’m not sure it’s fair to impose a split rate on businesses who many times don’t even have a voice at town meeting,” he said.
All three selectmen said the best way to lower Southborough’s tax rate is to attract new businesses to town, and they praised the work of the Economic Development Committee in fostering a more business-friendly environment. “What we need is new business, new jobs, and additional sources of revenue,” Selectman Dan Kolenda said.
Businesses currently represent 6.3% of the taxable parcels in town, but contribute 19% of the taxable revenue.
The amount of property taxes you will pay depends on your home’s valuation. The average valuation of a single-family home in Southborough is $516,400, meaning the average family will pay $8,335 in taxes this year. If your home is assessed for a higher amount, you’ll pay more than the average. If it’s assessed for a lower amount, you’ll pay less.
Town Assessor Paul Cibelli said home valuations rose slightly this fiscal year, but the total taxable value for the town decreased by more than $15M, mainly due to a decrease in commercial and industrial valuations.
Selectman Bill Boland said while he was concerned that residential tax bills keep going up – to the tune of more than $1,400 on average since 2006 – Town Meeting has the ultimate control over the town budget.
“You have to come to Town Meeting and voice your opinion,” he said.