SNN: Real Estate Assessments Up Again
Somerville, Mass. - Somerville is going through changes. With the Green Line coming soon, the redevelopment of Union Square and new businesses moving into Assembly Square, property values are skyrocketing across the city.
This means that even though the residential tax rate this year is $12.61, slightly lower than last year, most residents will likely end up paying more in their base tax bill.
About half of the residential properties have increased in value by around 15 percent in the past year, according to City Hall, while some have increased less and others more. A few have even doubled in value. That was the news that the Board of Aldermen and the public learned at a Nov. 25 meeting where Chief Assessor Marc Levye gave his annual presentation on real estate values and on the tax levy percentages homeowners will have to pay this year.
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, who addressed the board, was cognizant of the double-edged nature of the changes taking place.
“As we’ve seen in the past few years, for the first time in our lifetimes, people want to be here for the quality of life. People are lining up to come here to go to the schools, to be in this exceptional place to live, work, play, raise a family,” the mayor said. “But it’s also a signal that we must remain vigilant on our pursuit of policies that will allow us to attain and [to] follow that orientation in value, [to be] the type of community we want to be, and that will keep our tax bills manageable.”
At the meeting, Levye and Curtatone announced several measures that will bring the tax bills down for residents, all of which the Board later voted to approve. They included setting the tax rate as low as possible, according to Levye, and a higher exemption for owner-occupied property. Last year the rate was 30 percent, but this year it will be 35 percent.
Other measures include exemptions for residents aged 70 and over, for veterans and for other conditions. At the meeting, some exemptions were increased. (The full list can be found here at the city assessor’s office website.)
Aldermen approved all of the measures suggested, but they also noted that in many cases, the exemptions would likely not make up for the increased tax bills.
“I don’t understand, when I look at the neighborhood, how people are going to afford it,” Alderman At Large Dennis M. Sullivan said to Levye, his colleagues, and the several dozen people present. “They may get a lot of money when they cash out, but some people have been there 20, 30 years. They don’t want to move but they’re getting squeezed out right now.”
Ward 4 Alderman Tony Lafuente was also concerned.
“I just want to make sure… that I have a good explanation for my constituents as to why their property values are going up 12 percent, 18 percent, 19 and a half percent,” he said. “I think it’s a little bit hard to take. We all talk about affordability and frankly, with this kind of stuff, we’re getting rid of affordability and unless somebody is willing to sell their house, they’re getting priced out… somewhere along the line, something has to be done because we can’t keep going up with these figures.”
For more information, contact the City Assessor’s Office at 617-625-6600 ext. 3100 or email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Assessor’s Office also released this newsletter that was mailed to all residents.