By Nick Kotsopoulos TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
WORCESTER — City assessors have acted on more than half of the 2,395 real estate abatement applications that were filed for last fiscal year, and have already inspected the properties of roughly 86 percent of the total applications.
They remain confident they will be able to complete their inspections and reviews of each property in the time required by law.
City Assessor William J. Ford said assessors had inspected 2,065 properties through Wednesday, and another 100 inspections have been scheduled.
Of the inspected properties, 1,334 have been reviewed. About half of those abatement applications have been approved, and the assessments for those properties were lowered.
Mr. Ford said 654 abatements were granted and processed, totaling about $1.4 million, while 670 requests have been denied. He said the remaining 10 are still being reviewed by staff for final determination.
The percentage of abatement applications that have been approved compared to those that have been denied has been pretty consistent since assessors began reviewing the abatement applications in June.
Historically, abatement approval rates don’t often run more than 50 percent.
State law requires the assessor to act on abatement applications within 90 days — the filing deadline was June 25 — and then notify each property owner of the determination within 10 days.
Mr. Ford said 190 commercial properties and 140 residential properties have yet to be inspected. He said those properties will be inspected and reviewed with current in-house staff in the time required by law.
The city has set aside $3 million to fund abatements and exemptions and has gone through slightly less than half of that amount.
There was a spike in abatement applications last fiscal year, because many business properties were hit with major increases in their assessments, which, in turn, caused their tax bills to skyrocket.
In comparison, residential property assessments dropped 3.8 percent, on average, compared with the previous year.
The assessed valuations for many of Worcester’s 2,278 commercial parcels went up by as much as 40 percent to 100 percent, while assessments for 174 commercial properties increased by more than 100 percent.
Meanwhile, of the 598 industrial properties in the city, 101 properties shot up 40 percent to 100 percent, while valuations of 60 more than doubled.
While assessors have until Sept. 25 to act on all abatement applications, the process will not end then. Those taxpayers whose abatement requests were denied by the assessor will then have until Dec. 25 to file an appeal with the state Appellate Tax Board.
As a result, the number of those appeals may not be known until early January, and then the process before the Appellate Tax Board could be a long, drawn-out one.