How much more will taxpayers owe next year?
There has been some debate about exactly how much property taxes are going up in the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.
Selectman Alex Vispoli said recently that taxes would “double.” In fact, he meant the rate of increase would double, from roughly $300 last year to around $600 this year.
But according to Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski, property taxes won’t go up an average of $600 per household. He said that based on preliminary estimates, taxes would go up $446 next fiscal year.
That figure could be less, he added, depending on the final budget numbers he presents in February.
Stapczynski said that for fiscal year 2015, the average tax bill was $8,648. For fiscal 2016, the average bill will go up to $9,094, an increase of $446.
However, there are a lot of variables at play that could lower that number.
One of those variables includes a push by some selectmen, especially Vispoli, to once again trim the tax levy by $1.1 million, which was done last year. If that is done, Stapczynski said, the increase over last year’s taxes would be $368, on average.
“These are all estimates,” Stapczynski said. “Who knows where they’re going to end up.”
Vispoli said no matter what the increase, property taxes are too high.
“We’ve got to put the rate of increase in check,” he said, adding that selectmen last year told Stapczynski they wanted him to start the budget at a level that is $1.1 million under the tax levy for an immediate savings.
“I made that motion in March and it was supported unanimously,” Vispoli said. In addition, he said he wants to look at whether the town should be taxing homeowners and businesses the full 2.5 percent as allowed by law under Proposition 2 1/2.
“I want to also look at the tax levy limit,” he said. “I’m pretty adamant. I’m going to keep firm to the position I made.”
Vispoli said the Doherty School project, paid for through a $35 million debt service override that was voted on and approved by Town Meeting and residents in a ballot question, has created a tax increase bubble.
“It’s too steep of an increase,” he said.
Selectmen recently discussed implementing a so-called “underride,” which would permanently lower the tax levy by $1.1 million. Vispoli said that wouldn’t be implemented until fiscal 2017. In the meantime, for fiscal 2016, he said, he wants the selectmen to lower the levy by $1.1 million as agreed.
“I’ll advocate that the $1.1 million is out of the revenue assumptions,” he said. “There’s plenty of money there. It’s not fair to the taxpayers.”