Jul 30, 2014
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Watertown Residents to See Property Taxes Rise 4.5 Percent

The Town Council approved a tax increase for Fiscal 2013, but will give owner-occupied homes a break.

Watertown Residents to See Property Taxes Rise 4.5 Percent

Watertown residents will see their property taxes rise by 4.5 percent, on average, after the Town Council approved the tax rates for Fiscal 2013 on Tuesday night.

The average assessed home is worth $420,841 and the tax on that home will rise $212 next year for an owner-occupied home, said Francis Golden, chairman of the Watertown Board of Assessors. The rate will be $14.68 per $1,000 of assessed value. A non-owner occupied home of the same value will have a $266 increase on its tax bill.

The CIP (commercial, industrial and personal property) rate will be 27.15 per $1,000 of assessed value, Golden said, a 3.44 percent increase, or an increase of $1,434 on the average bill.

The increase would be more if the Town Council did not also approve a 175 percent shift of the tax rate toward the CIP class and a 20 percent residential exemption. The Town Council has approved the shift and exemption for the past several years, Golden said.


Watertown 2013 Property Taxes

Assessed Value 20% Residential Exemption Non-owner Occupied Home $100,000 $232 $1,468 $250,000 $2,434 $3,670 $500,000 $6,104 $7,340 $750,000 $9,774 $11,010

Source: Watertown Board of Assessors

Of the 9,746 residential properties in Watertown, Golden said that 63.5 percent receive the residential exemption. The difference can be a big, with the tax bill on the average home being $4,942 with the exemption and $6,178 without – a difference of $1,236. Homes worth $650,000 or more will not benefit from the shift, however.

The residential exemption could be higher - a much as 30 percent - and Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis pushed for a 25 percent exemption.

“Last year we increased the residential tax rate by 4.25 percent and this year we are proposing raising it 4.5 percent,” Kounelis said. “I hear from so many residents that this is truly a hardship.”

If the exemption was 25 percent, the average valued owner-occupied homes would pay $80 more, while a non-owner occupied would pay $502 more. 

Kounelis said she thinks landlords could handle the higher tax rise.

“When we have absentee landlords (the rental) is for-profit,” Kounelis said. “I think they will be able to absorb the $502.”

Lexington Street resident Paul Fahey said he supports the 20 percent residential exemption.

“While part of me (as a homeowner) would enjoy the 25 percent exemption, I have been a renter most of my life,” Fahey said. “Whenever possible I think we should have a sense of equity (between owners and renters). There are a lot of reasons why people have rental properties, and I think the 20 percent exemption is reasonable.”

Watertown’s tax rate appears to be higher than surrounding towns, Golden said, with the $14.40 rate in Fiscal 2012 being higher than Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Cambridge, Newton and Waltham.

When you look at the average tax bill, however, Watertown falls in the middle, being around half the amount of Belmont and Newton and two-thirds the amount of Arlington, but higher than Cambridge, Boston and Waltham.

Not all communities have the residential exemption, Golden said, and he said it helps keep Watertown affordable.


2012 Residential Property Tax Rates

Town Tax Rate Ave. Tax Bill Arlington $13.66 $6,565 Belmont $13.35 $9,963 Boston $13.04 $3,305 Cambridge $8.48 $3,919 Newton $11.17 $8,912 Waltham $13.35 $3,952 Watertown $14.40 $4,730

Source: Watertown Board of Assessors

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