GRAFTON, Mass. — Grafton property owners will see a 10 percent jump in their tax rate beginning in July, the start of the new fiscal year.
The Grafton Board of Selectmen unanimously voted Tuesday night to increase the town’s property tax rate following a recommendation by the town’s Board of Assessors and the Office of the Town Administrator.
The vote increases the current rate of $14.13 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $15.55. According to figures provided by Principal Assessor Jennifer O’Neil, the average single-family homeowner will pay about $280 more.
Rising property values were not part of the equation. The average home property value will drop, according to the recent assessment, from $337,700 to $324,900, or 93 percent of current market value.
Despite the lower property values, the new tax bill will average $5,052 versus $4,772 today.
O’Neil said a plan to skew more of the tax burden on the town’s commercial or industrial base would create a heavy burden to those businesses as they make up a small part of the overall local economy.
“A shift of even 10 percent off residential to commercial would save the average resident $55 but would increase the average commercial tax bill by over $920,” she said.
Town Administrator, Timothy McInerney, said the property tax increase was broken down by the following:
- 50-cent increase due to a decrease in property values
- 47-cent increase attributable to new debt, mostly from the new high school
- 45-cent increase as allowed under Proposition 2½, the state mandated property tax limit law.
For homeowners who are fighting to make ends meet, this is not good news. The unemployment rate in Grafton is 6.4 percent, according to September numbers published last month by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, a number that, while well below the national average of 7.9 percent, has stubbornly remained at this level over the summer.
The tax hike will be the second highest increase in the past five years. In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, tax rates went up 14.77 percent. The average since 2008 is 9.18 percent.
However, despite the increase, some property owners can qualify for a tax relief under Massachusetts law if they are legally blind, elderly, a disabled veteran or widowed.