Wareham’s tax rate remains split evenly between residential, commercial properties

Nov 6, 2018

Wareham will maintain a single tax rate for residential and commercial/industrial properties, though one Selectman fought for considering a split rate, which could have saved homeowners an estimated $126 annually.

While the board Tuesday unanimously approved a rate that evenly taxed both classes of properties, Selectman Patrick Tropeano wanted to explore a split rate.

Under Massachusetts law, Selectmen may opt to tax residential and commercial/industrial properties at different rates. However, the state Department of Revenue recommends not splitting the rate until the commercial properties make up at least 20 percent of a town with residential properties making up the rest. In Wareham, 83.2 percent of properties are residential and 16.8 percent are commercial/industrial.

Director of Assessment Jacqui Nichols recommended not splitting the rate, saying it would only result in an annual average savings of $126 for homeowners, but cost commercial/industrial owners an additional $1,480 a year on average.

“It’s a very small benefit for homeowners versus a much larger burden for the [commercial/industrial] taxpayer without proper support from the tax base,” said Nichols, adding the shift doesn’t generate additional revenue for the town.

Tropeano argued residents could use the relief while businesses could afford the bigger bill.

“Fourteen hundred dollars is not that much money when you come down to it,” said Tropeano. “The businesses that come here and make money off of us need to kick in.”

Nichols said the change would cost the town more money in administration costs and burden her department, which consists of five employees. Selectman Chair Alan Slavin said the town should follow the state’s recommendation.

Ultimately, Tropeano voted in favor of keeping the single rate, but urged the board to consider the change next year.

“This year I’m willing to go one to one,” said Tropeano. “But next year – watch out.”