WHITMAN — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, Nov. 15 voted to set a uniform tax rate of $15.08 per $1,000 valuation for fiscal 2017 on both residential and commercial property.
Assessor Kathy Keefe presented the Board of Assessors’ recommendation for the uniform rate to Selectmen. She also reported that the Department of Revenue had certified Whitman’s valuation for 2017 at $1,518,230,876, which, along with the tax levy of $22,901,992 to estimate the tax rate of $15.08, which could shift a bit when it is input into software, but is not expected to go higher than $15.10.
The fiscal 2016 tax rate was certified at $15.59.
The residential and commercial exemptions, which are always an option, were not recommended because Whitman does not have a high percentage of rental properties and the small commercial exemption only aids businesses that own their property.
Town Administrator Frank Lynam noted that the personal property class value decreased by almost $4 million after “extraordinary growth” from National Grid property, which declines over time.
A National Grid personal property report in March 2015 added $72.8 million in new growth, raising the town’s levy limit — and was not expected to last. The anomaly was discovered during an analysis of available funds, including new growth, according to Lynam.
“I expect that within the next seven years, we’ll lose all of that,” he said. “So we have not used that money as part of our budgeting concept — and because of that, you’re going to see an excess levy because we don’t want to use that money, otherwise we’ll have to play catch-up in the years that follow.”
Selectman Daniel Salvucci asked if that money could be spent on a capital project. Lynam replied that was done this past year when about $1 million was spent on capital projects using the money from the National Grid base figure.
“It’s never precise, we have to calculate it each year and we don’t know where the numbers will come in,” Lynam said. “I do know, however, that that number is going to continue to decline and I do not want to come close enough on our budget to have to come back in the fall because we overspent.”