Property owners in Northborough will see a one percent tax increase over last year in the FY2013 budget, as approved by the Board of Selectmen Monday night.
With recommendations from the Board of Assessors and Town Administrator John Coderre, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to accept the single tax rate of $16.11, up from $15.11 in FY2012. This will mean an average impact of $67, which is $126 less than estimated at Town Meeting.
The tax bill for a single family home, which is assessed at $383,646, will be $6,181, an increase of $67.
Coderre pointed out that in a five year span of FY2005 to FY2010, the average increase was around $220 each year. Within the past three years, the increase has been $189 combined.
"The total increase in the past three years, total, is less than the average of the preceeding five years," said Coderre, adding, "this is my favorite slide."
Coderre said that "this is a record year of growth for us," adding that the minimal increase in taxes is a conscious and perfected approach of making Northborough a business friendly town, concentrating on commercial growth during a time when residential growth had dipped. State aid and commercial growth helped to offset the slip in residential growth. With state aid declining, and also commerical growth, it is not a trend that is expected to continue.
"The reality is," said Coderre, "we'd love to have your taxes go down. We try to be efficient and effective with resources. We've been able to mitigate those taxes. The new growth [in Northborough] did a couple of things; it offset some of the market forces that had declined in the town. Over 2010 and 2011 we lost state aid during the worst part of the recession. So in real terms, the new growth and revenues went to backfill that. We maintained services and minimized the tax impact, and added permanently to our tax base. This is a fantastic success story for the town of Northborough."
In 2009, 78 percent of the tax base was residential, with 21 percent making up commercial and industrial. That has shifted, in 2013 residential making up less than 75 percent and commercial and industrial at more than 25 percent.
"The new growth was driven by the residential market," said Coderre, "but that became stagnant, and the commercial development picked up. But we knew it would drop off. That is not something we didn't plan on."
The board also voted not to adopt a residential exemption or small commercial exemption.
The town's total valuation has increased to $2.49 billion, and new growth valuation in FY2013 is at $92.9 million.
The top ten taxpayers, led by Northborough Crossing, also include Avalon Bay Communities, National Grid, Norton Company and Verizon.
"The great thing to take away from this," said Coderre, "is when it comes to development, this is what you want to see. You have housing, utilities, shipping, warehousing ... basically you have an extremely diversified tax base. You don't just have one big company with a massive campus. We have great diversity and we're adding to it. We don't know what will happen in Fiscal2014, but as Jeff [Amberson, selectman] likes to say, 'We're in good shape for the shape we're in."
Barbara Clifford, president of the Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce, attended the classification hearing.
"When you started speaking, I wanted to applaud," she said. "I go to a lot of different meetings and I'm on a lot of different boards. We all know the success story that is Northborough Crossing and now we know how that happened. Just the way you planned things, quite frankly, Northborough is the envy of many different towns. It's delightful to see this type of presentation."