Wilmington Shifts Tax Burden to Business to Aid Residents

November 27, 2018
Wilmington Principal Essessor Karen Rassias gives the Board of Selectmen a presentation during the tax classification hearing. SUN/Kori Tuitt Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

WILMINGTON -- Tax bills will increase by about $290 in fiscal year 2019 for the average single-family home owner in town, following a Board of Selectmen vote Monday night.

The board unanimously voted for a 175 percent tax shift to place more of the tax burden on commercial business owners, which Wilmington selectmen have historically supported. With the tax rate set at $13.75 per $1,000 of assessed value, the tax bill for the average single-family home owner in Wilmington will be about $6,626 for fiscal year 2019.

Principal Assessor Karen Rassias offered a presentation to the Board of Selectmen Monday. The Board of Assessors recommended the 175 percent tax shift for fiscal year 2019. Since 2008, the board has a approved a residential factor making for a 175 percent shift.

Selectmen Mike McCoy was the first to ask what can be done to help the senior citizens in town, who may be on a fixed income and are dealing with an increased tax bill each year. The rest of the board also addressed that as a concern in the community.

“We need to look at something down the road. I don’t have a magic answer,” McCoy said.

One resident who has lived in town for nearly 70 years rose to express his concerns with taxes. He bought his home in town in 1995, and as a retired person, said it has become increasingly difficult to pay his taxes on his home with his fixed income from his Social Security. He asked if there was a way retired people could be placed in another bracket, where taxes are significantly lower than working residents.

“There’s more people in town getting forced out of their houses because of taxes,” he said.

Unfortunately, Rassias said there is no provision in the state law that would allow that. There are, however exemptions that residents may be eligible for. Rassias suggested he set up an appointment to meet with her.

A number of factors determine the tax rate in town, including property values. Once again, both residential and commercial property values have increased in town. The average single-family home is valued at $481,922 for fiscal year 2019.

The tax rate for commercial/industrial property was set to $30.94 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, making the average tax bill about $61,444. That is an increase of about $2,176 from last fiscal year’s tax bill. The average commercial/industrial property value in town for fiscal year 2019 is $1,985,925.

For fiscal year 2018, Wilmington residents had a tax rate of $14.41 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, making the tax bill for the average single-family home owner $6,335. That was an increase of about $210 from last fiscal year, making for the lowest increase for residents since 2012. During that fiscal year, the average single-family home was worth $439,673.

The commercial tax rate for fiscal year 2018 was $32.46 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which made the average tax bill $59,267.

In fiscal year 2017, the tax bill for the average single-family home owner increased by about $366, making the average tax bill $6,125.

Selectman Greg Bendel said he urges Town Manager Jeff Hull to continue his conservative approach so that the town can do what is right for its residents.

Without a split tax rate, the single tax rate for residential and commercial property owners would be $17.68 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. In other words, the tax bill for the average single-family home owner would have increased by about $2,608. The average commercial/industrial tax bill would decrease by more than $24,000.

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