Watertown property owners will see a increase in their property tax bills, but the overall average is bigger than most people’s reality, Town Assessor Francis Golden told the Town Council Tuesday.
Residential property taxes will rise on average 6.25 percent, but he said that number includes the new apartment buildings on Pleasant Street and Waltham Street.
“The 6.25 increase is the largest since I’ve been here,” Golden said. “The apartments are skewing that, so it is not realistic for most.”
For most people – 97 percent of homeowners – the increase will be around 3.28 percent, Golden said during his tax presentation (click here to see details).
The Town Council approved the tax rate, as well as a shift of the tax burden from residential property owner to CIP taxes (Commercial/Industrial and Personal Property). Also, a 20 percent exemption was approved for owner-occupied properties.
Some Councilors would have like to have increased the exemption to 25 percent. This would have reduced property taxes slightly for many residents.
Many residents are “house poor” said Councilor Angeline Kounelis. Some of the most impacted are residents who have been in town for decades and bought when the prices were $20,000-30,000. The increase in value does not help them as long as they stay in their hme.
She called for increasing the exemption to 25 percent.
“It is troubling to me that people cannot afford the increases,” Kounelis said.
Not all property owners living in their home will benefit from the exemption. Those in homes assessed at $750,000 or more will actually pay more, Golden said.
The reason for the increase, Golden said, was due to the increasing value of properties in Watertown. Three-quarters of neighborhoods in town saw their property values increase, he said, and condominiums had the largest leap.
“Like when the market falls people say condos are like canaries in a mine – they are the first to fall,” Golden said, “when the market appreciates they are the first ones to take off.”
Golden had some examples for the property tax bills for different types of homes in which the owners are living:
- A single family home worth $466,705 will pay 3.47 percent more, or $189.71
- A condo worth $317,668 will pay 8.19 percent more or $258.70
- A two-family home worth $505,697 will go up 2.88 percent or $173.66