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How Does Your Community's Tax Rate Stack Up?

A chart of tax rates across the greater North Shore.

Interested in how your community's tax rate stacks up to the surrounding cities and towns on the greater North Shore? Here is a list of Fiscal Year 2012 tax rates, according to the Department of Revenue. 

Across the North Shore, tax rates fluctuate between the lowest at $10.11 in Manchester-By-The-Sea and the highest of $17.99 in Swampcott. The average residential tax rate, based on the numbers below, is $13.78.

Community Residential  Open Space  Commercial/Industrial Beverly $12.97 $12.97 $23.59 Boxford $14.09 0 $14.09 Danvers $13.92 0 $19.38 Georgetown $13.09 0 $13.09 Hamilton $17.32 0 $17.32 Ipswich $12.77 0 $12.77 Lynn $16.28 0 $32.82 Lynnfield $14.26 0 $15.56 Manchester By The Sea $10.11 0 $10.11 Marblehead $10.52 0 $10.52 Middleton $12.81 0 $12.81 Nahant $10.55 0 $10.55 Peabody $11.82 0 $22.43 Salem $15.63 0 $29.81 Swampscott $17.99 0 $33.41 Topsfield $15.45 0 $15.45 Wenham $17.89 0 $17.89

 

The following information was compiled using the Massachusetts Department of Revenue data last updated on 12/11/11.

Don January 04, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Got to tell you folks, this is money well spent. Just this past weekend I took sick and needed the assistance of the fire dept/emts.They have responded "outstandingly" as they always have when my relative was sick last year and helped me this year. We also had a motorcycle crash in front of the house a few years ago and they showed up with their usual overwhelming force. I can't say thank you enough to those folks who have our backs. We should never, never allow them to fear for any cutbacks at any time and should never hesitate to pay more to keep them in good shape and give them all the tools they need. They do wonderful things for us and many will attest. My support for them will never go away.
John Buba January 04, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The town budget funds way more than police and fire and in fact these services reflect a small portion of the overall budget. Marblehead and Manchester have low tax RATES becasue they have a lot of expensive property. So a low tax rate does not mean low taxes. It would be great if this table also included the annual budgets for the city or town broken down by police/fire, schools and other; then you would really see where all the money goes. Thanks Patch for printing this and other informative data
Robert Gates (Editor) January 05, 2012 at 04:17 AM
All things being equal, a low tax rate equals a low tax bill. But all things are not equal. There's just one single-family home for sale in Manchester right now for less than $400,000. That home is priced at $369,000. In the interest of simplicity, let's say that the sale price is also the assessed value. That would be a $3,730 tax bill. But in Lynn, for example, the residential tax rate is $16.28, which is 60 percent higher than Manchester's rate. But the average single-family tax bill $3,670. So while more than half of Lynn homeowners pay an annual tax bill of under $4,000, just a handful of homeowners in Manchester pay less than $4,000. So while the rate in Manchester is low, by most measures there's very few bills that there that are "low." The the tax rate is one half of the equation, the other half is assessments. A low tax rate is one thing, but if assessments are high the total tax bill will not be low.
Jay Burnham January 05, 2012 at 12:17 PM
While it is true that at the moment there is only one home in Manchester on the market for less than $400k (Hamilton has 14), it should also be noted that on the other end (over $400k) we are fairly evenly matched. At present Manchester has 36 homes for sale over $400k; Hamilton has 32. In the past 12 months, Manchester has weighed in with 52 sales of single family homes over $400k; Hamilton has had 35. The underlying problem is the tax LEVY. As your property value DECREASES (lower assessment), your tax rate INCREASES...in order to maintain the tax levy so as to fund our town services. The ability to utilize this formula is part of the problem in a declining economy. Most folks are earning less, but still paying more each year because of it. The solution? You tell me. ( I have some thoughts, but I'd like to hear yours before I put my head in a noose)
Don January 05, 2012 at 01:19 PM
The Colonial golf course would be an excellent site for a casino. Maybe not for the people who live there, but we would have very few taxes if that happened. True, an unwanted element will come around, but we could hire more police to keep it confined to the highway and that area. Very little expense increase, big return. I have met the president of the Sands Corp in Vegas, who is from Boston. He would pay the entire cost of construction. Just a wild idea.
john January 05, 2012 at 01:44 PM
I assume we are talking about Hamilton here: 1. Combine some services with Wenham, especially fire/police. 2. Implement suggestions from the school audit. 3. Get some more business in areas. 4. I am willing to be there are departements that can go, be combined, or be cut all together along with administrative positions. The problem is that town government along with state and federal have grown too big to a point where it is almost impossible to scale them back. It will be a fight to do so.
Robert Gates (Editor) January 05, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Jay, let me give it a shot: Regardless of assessed value or tax rate, the total tax bill is driven by spending. Assessments are essentially a method (in principle) to fairly distribute the tax burden. Reducing spending is one way to reduce taxes. Another would seem to be to add new taxable property at a rate greater than the increase in spending. Those are two ideas (in the general sense) for starters.
Gean Bronson January 05, 2012 at 07:40 PM
A casino will only bring DOWN your property value and attract RIFF-RAFF to the area.
Don January 06, 2012 at 12:42 PM
I respect your opinion Gean. They already are proposing a "shopping mall" type building there, I believe it is approved though the contractor probably is in financial trouble. Kind of too slow getting going not to be. A casino is a trade off, the revenue will be huge and the infrastructure in our town will be very attractive. Plenty of money for things, but the big problem is how to isolate the riff raff from the town. They do this at Foxwoods very well with a large police force of their own. We would need to increase our police to deal with that. The casino owner I allude to is LOADED. He has enough money to purchase our town as rich as people are. He could fund that with his spare change. I would bet that the property values would increase in town, except those near the golf course or in that industrial park. Surely, they will oppose it, but this is America and the majority vote rules.
Bridget Russo January 06, 2012 at 05:54 PM
"It would be great if this table also included the annual budgets for the city or town broken down by police/fire, schools and other; then you would really see where all the money goes." absolutely!

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