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Residential Tax Rate Lowered In Springfield, But Many Will See Higher Bill

Springfield City Hall
Paul Tuthill

New property tax rates have been set in the largest city in western Massachusetts.

            The tax rate on residential property in Springfield is coming down, but because property values have gone up the tax bill for the average single-family home will increase by $123.

               By a unanimous vote, the City Council approved setting the residential tax rate at $18.90 per $1,000 of assessed value – a 63-cent reduction from the previous rate.  It is the lowest the residential tax rate has been in Springfield in a decade.

               The tax rate for commercial, industrial, and personal property remains unchanged at $39.23.

               These rates were recommended by Mayor Domenic Sarno and endorsed by a tax review committee chaired by City Councilor Tracye Whitfield.

"I wish that there was no increase to the bills because we know that we still are struggling during COVID times, but some relief is better than none," said Whitfield.

                During a public hearing prior to the City Council vote Monday night, Nancy Creed, president of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, said the organization endorsed the rates recommended by the mayor.

" We recognize the challenges all our residents are faced with at this point," said Creed.  "The small business community is faced with similar challenges but we appreciate what everyone is going through and so we are supportive of the recommendation for the residential factor."
                 City Councilor Kateri Walsh said it is rare for there to be such unanimity on setting tax rates.

" The mayor, the Council and the business community have come together and that doesn't always happen," said Walsh.

                 The Council also unanimously approved Sarno’s recommendation to transfer $1 million from the prior fiscal year’s budget surplus and apply it to the revenue side of the current budget.   That effectively lowered the total amount the city must collect in property taxes from $228.5 million to $227.5 million.

                 The average single-family home in Springfield is valued at $172,900, according to the Board of Assessors.    That valuation is based on the fair market value as of January 1, 2020.

                 As much of the economy has contracted during the pandemic, residential real estate prices in Springfield have continued to increase – a consequence of a shortage of properties for sale and low mortgage interest rates.

                  City Councilor Jesse Lederman said the Council needs to keep that in mind when it makes financial decisions in the coming months that will impact taxes a year from now.

"Being able for our homeowners and business owners to predict these types of things is important," said Lederman.

                  At the urging of the Council, information will accompany the tax bills on the process to apply for a reduction.   Low- income seniors along with disabled veterans and people who are legally blind are eligible under state law to have their tax bills reduced.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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