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For Berkshires, some will see taxes go up while property values go down


For communities in the Berkshires it’s the time of year when local governments determine their tax rates, and many this year are seeing their taxes go up while property values go down. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said he’s predicting that residents of the small Berkshire city could see their taxes rise 3% this year – but he says his cities tight fiscal situation is not uncommon right now.

In Massachusetts, communities have already set or are planning to set their tax rates for fiscal year 2013. And many in the Berkshires will see their taxes go up, while property values drop – despite the evidence of a slowly recovering economy.

Smaller towns including Williamstown, Cheshire, New Ashford, Adams and larger communities like Pittsfield, have all approved of higher tax rates for the fiscal year.

Paula King, chair of the Pittsfield Board of Assessors said that as property values are dropping in the Berkshires, and Pittsfield, the city has to make up the difference in revenue by raising taxes.

Every three years in Massachusetts, communities must go through a rigorous review that evaluates property values. King said, as is Pittsfield’s case, that communities may see smaller jumps in the tax rate in the interim years.

Chapin Fish, President of the Berkshire County Board of Realtors said that the economic recession had a major effect on the area’s home values.

Fish says that even now when the housing market is improving in Massachusetts and in the Berkshires, the effects of the recession are still going to be seen in local tax rates.

And for communities that have yet to set their tax rates for this year, uncertainties in Washington are also a contributing factor.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.