22 Aug 2014
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Selectmen Set FY13 Residential and Commercial Tax Rates

Selectmen debated the balance between raising taxes on residents and businesses and came to a compromise.

Selectmen Set FY13 Residential and Commercial Tax Rates

The Burlington Board of Selectmen set the FY13 tax rates during last night's meeting.

Burlington has a split tax rate, meaning the rates are different for residential properties and CIP (Commercial, Industrial, Personal Property) properties.

In FY12, the residential tax rate was 11.55 (meaning residents pay $11.55 per $1,000 of residential value) and the CIP rate was 31.70. The rates were set to meet the town's FY12 budget of $85,141,212.

The board had a few options, presented by Town Appraiser/Assistant Assessor James Doherty, Town Accountant Paul Sagarino, Jr and Burlington Treasurer/Collector Brian Curtin.

In the end the selectmen voted 3-1 to go with Option A. There were only four selectmen voting because Chairman of the Board Ralph Patuto was unable to make it to the meeting due to a family matter.

Option A raises the residential FY13 tax rate to 11.85, a 3.4 percent increase over FY12. It raises the CIP tax rate to 31.70, or a 4.3 percent increase over FY12. The rates were set to meet the $88,648,222 FY13 tax levy, which is 4.12 percent higher than FY12.

The other option that was under consideration was Option B, which would have raised residential rates only by 2.95 percent but would have raised the CIP rate by 4.63 percent.

Option B was supported by Vice Chair Robert Hogan and Selectman Michael Runyan, the latter of whom was the one dissenting vote against Option B. They agreed with Curtin, who said the business sector was better able to absorb a more significant tax rate. Curtin said he favored raising the residential rate as little as possible in consideration of the town's senior population. On the other hand, selectmen Walter Zenkin and Daniel Grattan were fearful of raising the CIP rate too much and risk lessening the appeal of Burlington for further economic development.

"I hear Dan and Walters' concerns about the commercial rate but the building inspector says Burlington is booming right now," Curtin said. "I’m more concerned with residents right now. We have large senior population who still own their homes and they are still hurting. Social Security checks don’t go up much but health insurance payments do. They are living on a fixed income."

Zenkin and Grattan held out for a compromise. Grattan said that if the town continued to raise the CIP tax burden at a faster rate than the residential burden, if the economy slowed the town would suddenly need to raise the residential rate by a lot all at once.

Zenkin argued that the town could lose competitiveness for possible incoming businesses if the CIP rate was set to high.

"We're on the high end when compare to competing towns," he said. "For example Waltham and Woburn, Woburn is only at a 26.3 rate. I don’t want to lose busines to Waltham or Woburn. We're talking about a $50 difference for residents per year.

In the end Hogan went with Option A in order to get a compromise. There was some discussion of waiting until the next meeting to get input from Patuto but the financial team said it would be too late by then.


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