Town Council to Discuss FY2021 Property Taxes, See the Proposed Rate

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Charlie Breitrose

A lot of money was raised and spent on the 2015 Watertown Election.

A lot of money was raised and spent on the 2015 Watertown Election.

The average Watertown property tax bill would rise $65 a year in Fiscal Year 2021 under the tax rate proposed by the Town Assessor.

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Town Council will be discussing the property tax rates for Fiscal Year 2021. The meeting will be held virtually and begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (see how to tune in and participate below).

The proposed residential tax rate would go up 11 cents to $12.25 per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate change would be an increase of less than one percent which would be the lowest since at least 2010. The smallest increase in the last decade was 2.1 percent in FY2011.

The average Watertown home assessment for Fiscal Year 2021 is $733,688, according to the presentation to be presented by Earl Smith, chair of the Board of Assessors on the Town’s website. See the presentation by clicking here.

That would be the rate if the Town Council adopts the maximum shift and a 25 percent Residential Exemption, according to the Town Assessor’s presentation.

The FY2020 tax rate included a 24 percent Residential Exemption, given to residents whose primary residence is in Watertown. The exemption rose from 23 percent the year before, and this year it is recommended that it increases to 25 percent.

The residential exemption would increase from $2,108 to $2,246 under those conditions. The average residential tax bill with the residential exemption would go up $65 to $6,741.

The proposal also includes an increase of the shift from residential to CIP (commercial, industrial and personal property) from 170 percent to 175 percent.

How to Participate

Members of the public may join the virtual meeting on Zoom:

The public can also join the virtual meeting audio only by phone: (877) 853-5257 or 888-475-4499 (Toll Free) and enter Webinar ID: 929 9133 1344 #

Public may also comment through email:

The meeting will be also be televised through WCATV (Watertown Cable Access Television): Comcast Channel 99, RCN Channel 13 or online at

16 thoughts on “Town Council to Discuss FY2021 Property Taxes, See the Proposed Rate

      • Watertown also has a homeowners exception rate that needs to be a factor. Belmont residents are having their taxes go up a total of $2,500 annually do to the high school being built and they are looking for an override in the spring for regular operating cost.

  1. This too much for home owners to deal with for 2021. Most multiple family homes in Watertown have apartments that have not been rented. Mine has been empty since July. You can go on Zillow and see how many apartments are available. This does not include the numerous apartment buildings that were built in the last two years that also have empty apartments.
    So Watertown is going up 8.6% on water, now it is going up on property taxes.
    How do you think home owners are going to pay these increases when their apartments are empty.
    This is too much.

    • Don’t forget that there’s also the very real possibility of a tax hike to pay the towns portion for a new high school. Even if it is meant to be only temporary, it’s still asking a lot for taxpayers to contend with on top of everything else.

        • The “temporary” debt exclusion for the high school could last at least 20 years depending upon Watertown’s borrowing rate, the final WHS cost, and the economic situation going forward. The MSBA’s percentage contribution is based on a formula regarding the maximum student enrollment, right sizing, and any add-ons they approve. Anything over the final MSBA approved number – is Watertown’s cost to bear. Follow the numbers.

  2. It’s $0.09 per 1,000. Nobody is going to notice. This is basically no change.

    What they need to discuss is street parking ban starting on an arbitrary date. Makes no sense and I wake up this morning to see all my neighbors with tickets. Classic Watertown leadership, no common sense.
    Have the ban start later in the year when the snow actually starts to fly. Or after the first plowable snowstorms.
    When was the last time we had plowable snow in November?

  3. The ban starts the same day every year, the first Monday after Thanksgiving. The WPD puts the notices on cars several weeks before to ensure all are notified well before and still people don’t get it and can’t figure it out. No cars are being ticketed. Too bad people can’t read before they speak.

  4. When I look at my own property taxes I see that within a short amount of time I have seen an almost 50% increase in my taxes. What doesn’t make sense to me is all the building that has happened in the town should have reduced our property taxes or at least stabilized them but that hasn’t happened.

    Another tax increase, no matter how small, is too much. In my own household we are cutting back, making sacrifices with spending, and preparing for what could be tough economic times ahead. Why isn’t the town doing that? The Town Manager and our Town Council should be looking at every department in town and making cuts. I am sure they can find places to save money.

    With regards to the vote for the new high school. Imagine when property owners find out that their taxes could increase at least 10% or more because of it? I just don’t see that passing and if it doesn’t then the town will be forced to find the money elsewhere.

      • If you look at districts throughout MA that have built schools lately you will see that taxes increased in those towns substantially. Belmont is a good example. Residents saw increases of 20-25% for the new 7-12 school. Granted, Watertown is not building a 7-12 but typically residents see increases that are by no means small.

        I don’t think the residents of Watertown will go for it even though the school is in rough shape. We are already paying quite a bit in taxes and another increase isn’t reasonable, especially given the current pandemic.

        I could be wrong with my prediction. At this point in the planning, there should at least be some estimates as to what the burden to taxpayers would be.

          • I’m sorry for another comment but I do want to add to what you just said about the commercial/industrial portion for Watertown. It is very likely that this pandemic will negatively impact our commercial/industrial sector in town. It is already impacting property owners that say they can’t find tenants and commercial space is bound to be impacted even more. If the commercial landscape changes in that way then wouldn’t the tax burden to everyone else increase?

          • Property values (assessed ones, at least) don’t fluctuate at the same rate as the economy, so I wouldn’t think it would be a dramatic shift.

            Also, I just remembered that Watertown will get a significantly higher reimbursement rate than Belmont because it is based on the community’s socio economic makeup. Watertown is expected to receive more than 40 percent reimbursement (it was about 48 percent last year but it changes a bit). Belmont’s is 36 percent according to their town website.

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