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Waltham tax rates up by small amount

WALTHAM — Waltham property owners will soon receive 2012-2013 property tax bills that will include modest increases from the 2011-2012 rates.
According to town officials on Tuesday morning, the new residential rate is $1.7133 per $100 of assessment, about 2 cents more than the previous rate of $1.6935. That represents a 1.2 percent hike.
Waltham’s non-residential property owners will see a 4.76-cent hike. The new rate is $1.8651, a 2.6 percent increase from $1.8175.
Waltham officials said the town’s grand list had just been made final, and they hope to get tax bills in the mail by the end of this week. Payments are due in full by Nov. 2, the first Friday of that month.
The residential rate increase is evenly split between town and school factors: Selectmen added a penny to the portion of the rate needed to support town office and road spending, which moved from 40 to 41 cents.
Meanwhile, the residential school rate moved from $1.2935 to $1.3033.
Waltham residents who pay property taxes based on the full value of their home will see a tax hike of about $20 for every $100,000 of assessed value. For example, owners of a home assessed at $250,000 would see a $50 increase.
In 2010, the most recent year for which the state has published data, about 68 percent of Waltham homeowners paid property taxes based on income sensitivity provisions in the state’s school financing law. Most of those homeowners received property tax prebates.
Waltham’s non-residential rate saw 3.76 cents from school spending added to the 1-cent municipal rate hike.
Non-residential property owners — including those who own commercial property and second homes — are looking at an increase of $37.60 for each $100,000 of assessed value.
In March Waltham residents backed essentially level town spending and joined other Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns in supporting slightly higher spending at Vergennes Union high and elementary schools.
ANwSU business manager Kathy Cannon said despite the slight up-tick in spending, Waltham’s school tax rate prior to a Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) adjustment actually dropped by a half-cent.
However, Cannon said, the town’s CLA also dropped from about 96 percent to roughly 95 percent. When adjusted for the CLA, Waltham’s residential school tax rate increased by about 1 cent.
State officials use CLAs in an attempt to make sure residents in all towns pay taxes based on the fair market value of their property even if local property assessments are inaccurate. To determine CLAs, state officials look at towns’ real estate sales to determine how close towns’ grand lists come to fair market value. They then adjust school tax rates to reflect the difference between town assessments and market value.
When CLAs rise, tax rates drop. When CLAs drop, tax rates rise. Within ANwSU, property tax rates in Ferrisburgh and Addison dropped in part because of rising CLAs that reflected, according to state calculations, lower property values. Panton reappraised its property values and was still working on its tax rates early last week, while Vergennes saw both a stable CLA and a residential school tax rate.
Waltham officials said their town’s CLA remained roughly the same this year in part because there have been so few sales in the town.

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