Grafton Property Taxes To Rise 10 Percent Next Year

  • Comments (30)
Principal Assessor, Jennifer O'Neil, recommended a 10 percent property tax increase for fiscal year 2013.
Principal Assessor, Jennifer O'Neil, recommended a 10 percent property tax increase for fiscal year 2013. Photo Credit: Richard Price

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.

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Comments (30)

I understand the need to raise taxes, but over the last few years, we pay for school buses $400, Trash, adopted new or increase town fees, brush, silver lake etc. My question, what is absorbing our cost? Salaries and Benefits all which have not been adjusted to stay in line with the towns inflow of revenue. Unless the town controls /cuts its overhead cost, the people will continue to pay higher taxes and with take home pay not increasing at the same level, the residents will be adversely impacted.

MDamien, I hear what your saying. I agree but we should be looking more at our Federal and State Governments to demand more accountability. It looks like they are going to raise the State Gas tax to raise revenues for the state. I do not think we are going to benefit as a town for this. It is funny that the state will now make more profit on a gallon of gasoline than the oil companies. The price of oil went up $2.25 today. This is not because of the Middle East, this is inflation seeping through. This is the hidden tax that people will need to be worried about as our Fed. Govt. continues to print money.

I for one, as all of you, am not crazy about paying more, but harpoon has it correct. New High School, Fire Station, Police Station, Elementary school and hopefully a new DPW facility. The time to bi.... is not now but at the finance committee meetings where they pick apart the budget line by line. The extra .45 will certainly go to other necessary expenditures in the town. I

Town meeting voted in all these tax increases, except the $.45 allowed increase under prop 2.5 law. And some of that $.45 increase in levy limit is induced because of town meeting vote.
Town meeting is where these taxes come from, not the Selectmen.

P.S., I hope no one is gullible enough to think that the $6.8 million municipal repair is not going to come from your extra tax burden, because it's certainly not covered by energy cost savings. At annual 5.6% tax rate increases, a lot of sins can be hidden.

Not sure why anyone is surprised by the tax increase. Quite a few people voted for the new school and were told taxes would increase.

Taxes going up
Health insurance going up.
Gas and oil going up.
Price of food going up.
Utility bills going up.
Unemployment going up.
National Dept going up.

Average income going down
Property values going down

Our government is getting awfully top heavy!

Big town expectations on a small town budget... always hurts the wallet of the tax payer.

P.S. We need MORE soccer fields please!

Only 4 out of 9 are statements are correct.
Not a passing grade.

not happy

I am not happy with raising taxes but at least we get to SEE the tax money going to something. At least we have a BUDGET and people who are telling us what is happening. You may not agree with them but they say it in an OPEN meeting. I will take that any day.

- Sales tax gets increased 25%, (a repeal vote failed 57% to 43%)
- Local meal tax is allowed
- A vote to roll back the 1998 "temporary" income tax failed 70% to 30%
These alone prove there is no real want to keep taxes within reason.
You need to live within your mean and the government will just take more when they need it.

Keep electing the same people and expecting different results. You now have Warren to vote lock step with the people who claim zero culpability with the financial crisis.

I def think there needs to be some additional clarification explaining how this is going to hit us.

There is a 50 cent increase due to lower property taxes...I know FY2012 for me, the total value of my property went up. So is the town coming back to each of us FY2013 with a new assessment of our property values? If the value of our property does indeed go up, then this is of course is additional money out, so how does that play against the reasoning above from our Town Admin? Going this method of reasoning, if property values go up, will the town cut the going tax rate? (I don't think that would happen).

I also would like additional info on that 45 cent increase.

Also, last time my taxes went up, I was told it was due to the high school. So why is the high school still being the source of tax increases, if supposedly prior increases were made because of the high school?

Not trying to be snarky, just fishing for more information to understand this better.

And while I do want to support local businesses, and understand not shifting more of a tax burden onto the local businesses, giving those businesses a my taxes going up it forces me to be even more frugal in how I spend my money. That means I am not going out to eat, not shopping at the more pricey stores, not buying anything extra. I don't like to shop the WalMarts or the Home Depots, would rather give my money locally when possible, but if my hand is forced, the deciding factor will always be 'where can I get this cheaper'. So maybe there needs to be some compromise.

Agreed, some more clarity on what the extra $.45 increase is needed for would be great!

The extra 45 cent increase is NOT targeted to any specific project. Rather, it is a policy, adopted by the BoS, to ensure that the maximum allowable tax revenue is generated every year. The difference shows up as "free cash".
Even if it is not needed, it will be assessed. So, your Grafton property taxes will NOT go down. Ever. They will ALWAYS go up. Always.
Unless the current BoS members are voted outm, and the new BoS members say this policy is unfriendly to tax payers.

In some respect we knew taxes were going to increase. we NEEDED the new high school. A town without an important educational accreditation is not a town that families would want to live in and Grafton would have become a ghost town. except it would have been a ghost town with a lot of infrastructure already built up for the current and expected growth that those few whom remained (largely the people that voted down the high school) would have had to pick up the tax bill on to cover the taxes lost from the mass family exodus. So don't gripe about the school. But I, like everyone else, am VERY curious as to what the 'why the hell not' $.45 increase is going to be used for. Everyone that is curious simply email McInerney's office and see if we can't get some clarity on this. The economy is still in the tank so I think the BOS owes it to the taxpayers to give us some details.

This is a 10% RATE increase, not tax increase in real dollars...based on the average dollar increase example given above, when you take into account that the actual average home valuation will DRECREASE, the average tax bill increase is 5.9% in terms of more $$ from your wallet.

And that is more or less in line with what we all signed up for when investing in the buildings this town needed. No surprises here.

That is correct. You will get the rest of the increase next year when property values go up.

Ugh... There are a lot of much better things on which my family could spend that! At least my family will eventually get to use the high school (if we can afford to stay that long). I really feel bad for those taxpayers who don't see any benefit from this increase.

That's why we need more commercial and industrial tax base. The Grafton and Upton Railroad, for instance, wants to develop industrial/commercial/logistics facilities all along its rail corridor... there is a great opportunity there.
I think there's also potential for development around Tufts and with the possibility of the Blackstone Valley becoming a full-fledged national park. So much potential...

I agree that the town has largely dropped the ball on attracting more commercial business to offset the residential tax burden. I haven't followed it closely enough but what have towns like Westoborugh, Hopkinton (outside of EMC) and other surrounding communities done to attract business that we aren't doing?

Note the thinking here: 45 cents of this increase is BECAUSE WE CAN. It is NOT currently allocated to any particular project (e.g. sidewalks). It is not currently needed. Rather, according to one Selectman, we "do not want to leave any money on the table". Translation: max the tax.
So, rather than limiting the tax increase, we are going to maximize the tax increase. If you disagree with this approach, remember it when you vote for Selectmen. They all agreed with this approach.

I watched the meeting, Grommit...Please tell us who said "do not want to leave any money on the table" and when did they say that.

Thank you.

Actually, this was stated by Mr. Padgett in a BoS meeting over a year ago. Right around the time the 2012 budget was approved. Not sure the meeting minutes reflect such comments. However, if you want to verify this, ask at the next BoS meeting.
I respect the man because he always engages, asks questions, pays attention and has a vision for the town. I wish the other BoS members were as actively engaged as Brooke. It is a tough job, but its importance really calls for active engagement in whatever is presented at the BoS meetings.

Agreed. The BOS has always said leave no money on the table. Tax to the limit, never know when we will need it. These are the towns elected officials. These views have been very public, not a secret or a surprise.

Not only did they all agree with the max tax, they all agreed (as did the finance committee) that we needed to spend $6 million on a new library!

I am confused by this. How can they raise taxes .50 for declining property values without an override? Doesn't this combined with the .47 mean they are raising over 2.5% without a required override?

We’ll people can have fun with their new high school.
People had to have like NOW!

HAVE FUN !!!!!

@Gtowner, with your...interesting attempt at putting together a cogent thought you have just proven why this town needed to up the educational bar with a new high school. With the extra space there should be a seat for you in there. Get to it!

Ouch is right!! Ten percent is a LOT of money. Not going to be able to live in this town pretty soon!

45 cent increase just because it's allowed under Prop 2 1/2... Sounds like a rather lame explanation. Where and why is that additional money needed?

10% tax increase IS painful and will hurt the majority of homeowners.

This is the town that sends plows out the day after we get 3" of snow when it's 40 degrees out, half the snow has already melted, and the next 3 days are supposed to be sunny and in the 50's and 60's.

Need more money? Simple. Just raise taxes.

Ouch! Not liking this one bit....some of this increased burden should indeed be shared by the commercial sector.