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Monday, May 21, 2012

T&G: Worcester residential values down. Real estate tax bill $11.3B

By Nick Kotsopoulos TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

WORCESTER —  The total assessed value for all taxable property in the city has reached $11.3 billion.

The figure, which is based on the city assessor’s opinion of value for all taxable properties as of Jan. 1, 2011, is 6 percent higher than the city’s total valuation for the previous fiscal year, according to city assessors.

The city’s total valuation for fiscal 2011, which ended June 30, was $10.85 billion. The high water mark for the city’s valuation came in 2008, when it reached $12.7 billion.

The increase is fueled in large part by a 25 percent average increase in the assessed valuations of commercial properties, and a nearly 28 percent average increase in industrial properties.

Meanwhile, the average valuations for residential properties, with the exception of apartment buildings, all dropped.

Since 1984, the city has set separate tax rates for residential and commercial-industrial properties, with the latter tax rate often more than double the residential rate.

The City Council will hold its annual tax classification hearing at 7 p.m. tomorrow night in the Esther Howland Chamber. At that time, it will also set the fiscal 2012 tax rates.

Through tax classification, which shifts the tax burden between the two classes of property, the lowest possible residential tax rate that could be adopted by the council is $14.50.

That would translate into an annual tax savings of $435, on average, for homeowners, according to city assessors.

Meanwhile, adoption of the lowest residential tax rate would also translate into a tax rate of $35.57 for commercial and industrial properties and an average tax increase of nearly $4,500.

According to assessors, residential properties now account for 72.3 percent of the city’s overall tax base, while commercial-industrial properties account for 27.7 percent.

That is in contrast to the previous fiscal year, when the breakdown was 78 percent residential properties and 22 percent commercial-industrial.

Significant increases in the valuation of commercial and industrial properties are a major reason why business properties now account for a greater percentage of Worcester’s overall tax base.

According to the assessor, the average assessed valuation of single-family homes has dropped 3.5 percent, to $198,061.

Meanwhile, the average assessed values for condominiums has dropped 7.2 percent ($118,884); two-family homes have dropped 7.6 percent ($186,579); and three-family homes have fallen 4.3 percent ($187,413).

There were 24,811 single-family homes in Worcester, 4,960 condominiums, 3,607 two-family homes and 4,874 three-family homes.

Apartment buildings, which went up 1.26 percent, for an average valuation of $618,162, were the only residential component to have an increase in assessed valuation.

In comparison, assessed valuations for commercial properties rose by 25.1 percent, on average. The 2,332 commercial properties in Worcester have an average assessed valuation of $821,138.

Industrial properties, meanwhile, had assessed valuations that increased by 27.9 percent on average. The 611 industrial properties in the city have an average assessed valuation of $947,499, according to assessors.

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