JANUARY 2, 2007
Chairman Perkins called the meeting to order at 6:05 PM.
Selectman Bond and Selectman Andrews were present.
Selectman Spataro entered the meeting at 6:10 PM.
Selectwoman Brunelle was absent.
Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board
VOTED: To enter into Executive Session at 6:06 PM to discuss Contract Negotiations.
A poll vote was taken. Selectman Bond, Selectman Andrews, and Chairman Perkins approved.
VOTE 3 – 0
Tax Classification Hearing
The Board of Assessors, and Barbara Erickson, Assessor/Appraiser, were present.
Ms. Erickson explained that the Assessors are responsible for setting policy in her office, and approving abatement applications and exemptions for taxpayers. Ms. Erickson acts as the “go between” for the office and the Board.
Ms Erickson said she wanted to thank everyone for their patience and understanding for the delay in tax bills being issued. She explained that the State felt land values on State-owned property were too high. She noted that the same excess values were approved by the State last year. She said the difference was concerning State-owned land that is reimbursable to the towns were also valued. The total reimbursement this year is $121,089.
Ms. Erickson reviewed a Tax Classification booklet that she had prepared. It was designed to provide information so a decision could be made in regard to the issue of allocating the local property tax levy among the four property classes for FY 2007.
The FY2007 Levy Limit is $25,266,061 minus a Debt Exclusion
New Growth in the amount of $861,643 included houses, additions, renovations, sheds, pools, decks, new businesses, and split lots.
Ms. Erickson told the Board that the largest increase in values was in the categories of Commercial properties and 4+ - unit apartment buildings.
Chairman Perkins asked if the Assessors had a recommendation in regards to the shift differential.
Ted Eayrs said the revaluation resulted in significant increases to commercial and industrial properties. The recommendation was to decrease the shift from 7.5% to 5%. This would mean an average increase of $70 for a home valued at $321,900.
Jane Lopes asked why the commercial properties and apartment buildings had increased so much.
Mr. Eayrs explained that values on the apartment buildings are determined by sales. Commercial properties are also determined by rental income.
Mr. Eayrs also cautioned about the “average” increase.
Ms. Erickson said values are looked at annually.
Ms. Henault asked why commercial land values are assessed lower than residential land values. She noted that she lives in a General Use are where there is a business across the street. The land size is the same, but the value is $60,000 less. The business also has town water.
Ms. Erickson explained that the land value is assessed differently for commercial properties.
Ms. Henault also asked why cities such as
Ms. Erickson said the split was made because there are more commercial properties.
Selectman Spataro asked if the Assessors would still recommend moving toward a flat tax rate if it had as much commercial development.
Mr. Eayrs said he believed a flat tax was more equitable.
Selectman Bond said he appreciated the concept of fairness, but mathematically, fairness may not solve the possible social fallout. He explained that businesses have the ability to pass on costs to users.
Selectman Andrews said that was not true.
Selectman Bond said many can.
Mr. Eayrs said that had nothing to do with the issue before the Board. He said tonight’s meeting is to determine the shift in taxation.
Selectman Bond said the values of property have an impact.
Chairman Perkins read a letter from the Chamber of Commerce asking the Board to vote for a flat tax.
Jane Lopes asked if this was the first year that an outside firm did the reval for commercial values.
Ms. Erickson said it was done “in house” over the last 6 – 7 years.
Ms. Lopes asked if revenue has always been used as opposed to sales.
Ms. Erickson said yes. She said the market and cost approach and the income approach.
Ms. Lopes asked why values have increased so much.
Ms. Erickson said a commercial adjustment is more costly to do. She said that someone comes in and looks at sales and income & expense statements and does a general overview to see if anything has changed dramatically. She said values typically stay stagnant for 2 – 3 years, whereas residential values go up and down.
Chairman Perkins said his position has not changed, explaining he has always been in favor of a flat tax rate. He said he would, however, go along with the recommendation of the Assessors.
Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Chairman Perkins, the Board
VOTED: To move the tax shift to 0%.
VOTE 2- 2 (Selectman Spataro and Selectman Bond opposed)
Motion does not carry.
Upon motion by Selectman Spataro and seconded by Chairman Perkins, the Board
VOTED: To move the tax shift to 5%.
VOTE 2 – 2 (Chairman Perkins and Selectman Andrews opposed)
Selectman Bond said over the years it has been determined that commercial growth is not correlated to a split tax rate. He said it is cyclical, going with the economy. He said what will change economics is involvement in purchasing from downtown stores. He said the tax rate doesn’t have a lot to do with it. He said residents will have to move as they will not afford to live here.
Selectman Andrews said if what Selectman Bond said was true, then TIF agreements should be abolished.
Motion was made by Selectman Andrews to move the shift to 3%. There was no second.
Upon motion by Selectman Spataro and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board
VOTED: To support the Assessors’ recommendation of a 5% shift.
VOTE 3 -1 (Selectman Andrews opposed)
Selectman Andrews said he wanted it noted that constituency had nothing to do with his vote.
Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectman Spataro, the Board
VOTED: To adjourn at 8:42 PM.
Diane Henault, Secretary
BOARD OF SELECTMEN