Elected officials in the largest city in western Massachusetts are preparing to set property tax rates for the next 12 months for both homeowners and businesses.
The Springfield City Council has scheduled a public hearing for 5 p.m. today followed by a meeting to debate and possibly vote to set the rates that will determine how much each property owner in the city will pay in local taxes over the next 12 months.
"It is always a delicate and difficult process of balancing the tax rate," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.
He has recommended the council lower the current tax rates for both residential and commercial property in the city.
"We have a strong economy and a strong housing market right now and I want to keep our business community strong, investing, creating more good-paying jobs and expanding our tax base," explained Sarno.
The mayor is proposing a tax rate of $19.52 per $1,000 assessed value for residential property (a decrease of 16 cents) and a rate for commercial, industrial, and personal property of $30.26, which is 4 cents lower than the current rate.
Under the mayor’s proposal, the tax bill for the average single-family home in Springfield would increase by $163 next year. This is because home values, which are based on a review of recent selling prices, have increased.
" What the houses are selling for, the market is very very hot," said Sarno.
The average single-family home in Springfield is now worth $161,000, according to the city’s assessors, an increase of almost $10,000 from a year ago.
If the proposed residential tax rate is adopted, the annual tax bill for a single-family home in Springfield would remain in the bottom 10 percent of all municipalities in Massachusetts, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
The statement said the city had calculated $128 million in new growth value in commercial, industrial and personal property which it said was evidence of Springfield’s positive business climate.
In order to balance the $692 million budget the City Council approved last June, the city needs to collect just over $216 million in revenue from property taxes.
Final passage of the fiscal year 2020 budget came after councilors and the administration struck a deal to eliminate 12 unfilled jobs and use $2.5 million of one-time revenue with the intent to lessen the property tax burden on homeowners.
City Councilor Tim Allen took the lead in negotiations with the city’s Chief Administration & Finance Officer T.J. Plante.
"The trick is being able to ask the tough questions of someone that you want to trust you," said Allen. " That is really hard to do and we've reached that with this financial team."
While there is no appealing whatever tax rates the City Council decides to set, the assessed value of a property can be disputed by filing an application for an abatement with the assessor’s office.