Property Tax Increases Opposed by Business Community

Unattractive commercial property tax rates discourage business and benefit competitors,”
– Chamber President and CEO, Christopher Cooney ( testimony before the Brockton City Council )

In an evening involving lengthy testimony from Cooney, the business community, and many concerned citizens, the Brocton City Council, after nineteen rounds of voting, set a new commercial tax rate that inched closer to a factor of 1.50. The new tax rate is 1.56 in 2014. It was 1.57 in 2013. “The Chamber is advocating for a 1.5 factor. Within the past seven years the rate and tax burden on business has gone from somewhat attractive to noticeably unattractive compared with many surrounding and gateway communities.” Cooney stated before the Council.

According to the Boston Business Journal, Brockton’s new 2014 rate of $33.96 per $1,000 of valuation produces a year over year increase to business in the amount of 6.4%, well in excess of the average increase statewide of 3.5%.

Article From the Boston Business Journal:

For the state’s tax minions at the Department of Revenue, ’tis the season to officially deliver sticker shock to tens-of-thousands of property owners throughout the commonwealth.

Through the end of December, DOR had officially endorsed new property tax rates affecting roughly 300 towns and cities in Massachusetts in the current fiscal year. For most communities, these rates were first proposed and tentatively applied to property tax bills beginning in July. Pending DOR approval, the new rates will remain in effect through the end of the current budget year that ends June 30.

The state’s property-tax approval process is an annual rite of passage for local towns and cities as they hammer out budgets for the months ahead, and the stakes are high for community leaders and property owners alike. A thumbs-up from DOR means its full steam ahead for the fiscal 2014 spending plans already agreed upon by municipal officials; a thumbs-down — and I’m told they do happen if rate increases or decreases can’t be justified — can mean its back to the drawing board.

For many communities, the year-over-year changes in property tax rates are eye popping.  Nine communities have won state approval for residential and commercial rate increases in excess of 10 percent, while 84 towns and cities will see year-over-year increases exceeding 5 percent. To date, the state’s average rate increase is 3.5 percent. All of which would appear to fly in the face of Proposition 2 1/2, the state’s decades-old law preventing cities and towns from expanding collections on existing properties by more than 2.5 percent on a year-over-year basis.

To compare community tax increases; go to, Boston Business Journal at, www.bizjournals.com/boston/real_estate/2014/01/the-massachusetts-towns-and-cities.html.

-Craig Douglas, Managing Editor, Online & Research- Boston Business Journal

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