Property tax bills for a majority of homeowners and business owners in Springfield Massachusetts are expected to be lower in 2013. But the reason won’t make most homeowners happy. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
Tax bills are going down because the city has hit its levy ceiling under the state’s property tax cap, and because property values have plummeted. The value of the average single family home, typically a person’s single largest asset, has fallen by $6600 to $127,200. It’s the largest year to year drop in value since 2009, according to Richard Allen, chairman of Springfield’s Board of Assessors.
Like most cities in Massachusetts, Springfield taxes residential and commercial property at different rates. If the city council votes to maintain the current share of the tax levy between residential and commercial, the tax rates for both would go down. The tax bill for the average single family home would go down $147.
Allen said the tax levy, the total amount the city can bill is $167.4 million, a reduction of $2 million.
At a hearing Tuesday held at the offices of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, chamber president Jeffrey Ciuffreda urged councilors to consider an even lower tax rate for business property. He said the property tax is an economic development policy issue.
Springfield city councilor John Lysak said the city is in a position to lower tax bills for homeowners and also give businesses a break with an even lower commercial tax rate
Springfield is in a position to set next year’s property tax rates at the earliest day in almost two decades. In recent years because of delays in getting property valuations approved by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, city councilors have rushed to set the tax rates by the December 30th deadline.
Springfield City Councilor Timothy Rooke, chair of the council’s Finance Committee, says there’s time this year for thoughtful deliberation.
The City Council is expected to hold a special meeting Monday, December 3rd to vote on the new property tax rates.