HANSON — The town will continue to be taxed a uniform rate for all property classifications for fiscal 2017.
The Board of Selectmen voted to set the annual tax classification rates following a brief hearing with the Board of Assessors on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Such hearings are required by MGL Ch 40 §56 before a tax rate may be set.
Assessor/appraiser Lee Gamache made the presentation to Selectmen before their vote on a uniform or split tax rate as well as whether they would accept residential or small business exemptions. She also reported that the excess levy capacity for the town is $208,477 and that the town has seen a good year for growth in residential properties and free cash.
“Single-family [property] value has increased and is increasingly going up year-to-year,” Gamache said. “We’re in a condo boom right now and people are paying a lot of money for the condos in Hanson … the values for condos are also increasing.”
At the same time, commercial properties in town have lost a little value, she said, noting there has not been a lot of business coming into town.
The board voted 5-0 to support the uniform rate. Neither exemption was accepted.
The town’s residential tax classification is the largest, comprising 91.7741 percent of the actual levy for fiscal 2017. At a uniform tax rate — meaning all classifications, including commercial, industrial and personal property as well as residential — would be at $15.98 per $1,000 valuation.
“There’s very little commercial-industrial [property],” Gamache said. “We’re definitely a bedroom town, and that’s why the board has historically always recommended a uniform tax rate — so that the shift doesn’t go on the small amount of commercial property that we do have here.”
Gamache explained that the two exemptions apply mainly to communities with a high rate of rental properties such as Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and the Cape and Islands. In Hanson, residential property is 98-percent owner-occupied so the assessors have historically recommended against adopting a residential tax exemption.
Selectmen voted 5-0 against such an exemption.
She also explained that the commercial exemption, which only benefits small businesses that own their property, is not guaranteed to be passed along to companies that rent space. Again, Selectmen voted 5-0 against such an exemption.
In other business, the board acted on Water Commissioner Mary Lou Sutter’s resignation from her position, effective Nov. 12, due to health reasons.
“It has become increasingly difficult to attend meetings as my health worsens and winter approaches,” Sutter wrote in her letter of resignation. She added that she did not want to resign without leaving a full board to address the town’s water needs.
The board accepted her resignation with regret following a round of applause from the audience in honor of her many years of service.
In a divided vote, Selectmen and members of the Water Commissioners approved — 6-3, with Selectmen Bruce Young, Bill Scott and Chairman James McGahan dissenting — to appoint Dennis O’Connell to fill a vacancy on the commission. One vacancy remains open, but was not voted on during the Nov. 1 meeting. Selectman Don Howard had two votes, as he is an elected member of both boards.
O’Connell has worked as a union electrician who has worked with the MWRA and Deer Island as well as the MBTA and Boston Housing Authority. The second applicant, William John Garvey is a South Shore Vo-Tech grad with an HVAC certification, who has worked on the town’s committee overseeing repairs to roofs at the elementary schools. Selectmen and water commissioners voted 3-5-1 against Garvey — with only McGahan, Scott and Young voting in favor and Howard abstaining from his vote as a water commissioner.
“In two weeks we can have another appointment,” Howard said.
Young congratulated O’Connell on his appointment, saying he was sure O’Connell would do an outstanding job.
“For the record, I made my decision based on experience,” Selectman Kenny Mitchell said of his vote for O’Connell. The board also voted to hire Jamison E. Shave as the new administrative assistant for the Hanson Highway Department.
Town Administrator Michael McCue said of the17 applicants — six of whom were interviewed — Shave was determined to be the best-qualified for the position. Shave’s extensive resume includes experience with the Hanson Water Department and as Fern Hill Cemetery superintendent of the cemetery.
“He comes with a plethora of experience in both administration and payroll,” McCue said. “Of particular interest was … in his capacity at Fern Hill, he was familiar with an awful lot of things that he would have to deal with in the Highway position having to do with groundskeeping and plowing and all sorts of things.”
(Express intern Michael Hughes contributed to this report).