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Wilbraham to continue employing single tax rate

Date: 11/16/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM -- For the first time in the history of the town, the percentage of commercial and industrial property has surpassed 10 percent.

Assistant Assessor Manuel Silva credited this increase to the addition of the new Big Y on Boston Road last year and the completion of several projects within Post Office Park.

Silva, along with Cathy Barnes, administrative assistant and data collector for the assessor's office, met with the Board of Selectmen last Monday evening to present three different options for the tax rate for fiscal year 2010 (FY10).

The single tax rate would mean residential and commercial/industrial properties would pay the same rate; the two other options presented would vary how much each type of property would pay, based on valuations.

A single tax rate for the current fiscal year would equal about $16.20 for every $1,000 worth of value, an increase of 91 cents over last year's rate.

The other options would mean $15.72 for residential properties and $20.25 for commercial/industrial or $15.24 for residential and $24.30 for commercial/industrial rates that are not conducive to business growth.

Terry Nelson, a town resident and small business owner as well as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Wilbraham Town Business Committee, said he was in favor of a uniform tax rate.

"From 2008 to 2009, our commercial tax base grew by 10 percent," Nelson told the selectmen.

A single tax rate would keep the community attractive to business, and Nelson added that it is an "important time to be attractive."

Chair of the Board of Selectmen David Barry wanted to know how he could explain to residents why their property values went down but their tax rates would be going up before voting on the rate.

"We have so many dollars in value and so many dollars appropriated at Town Meeting," Silva explained.

The tax rate for the current fiscal year is based on the budget and appropriations approved at the Annual Town Meeting each spring.

The selectmen unanimously approved the motion to accept a single tax rate for FY10.