Most Bedford residential property owners can expect to pay a little less in real estate taxes this fiscal year.
The Select Board on Monday approved classifying commercial and industrial property values at 175 percent higher than residential, the final variable for what calculates to be a reduction in the tax rates.
According to the Board of Assessors’ computations, the residential tax rate will be $12.48, and the commercial and industrial rate will be $28.16, applied per $1,000 of valuation. Tax rates will be final after the assessors’ recapitulation sheet is certified by the state Department of Revenue.
Although the tax rates declined by 8.1 and 5.9 percent respectively, the actual tax bills will be close to the amount paid in fiscal 2022 because of accompanying increases in valuations.
According to the assessors’ report, the average value of a single-family residence grew from $774,096 to $837,645 – a 7.6 percent increase. That computes to a Fiscal 2023 tax bill of $10,454, which is $58 less than last year – almost $5 a month. Similarly, for all residences, the yearly saving is $112 after a 7.6 percent increase in value.
The fiscal year is almost half over, so the new rate will be reflected in bills for the third and fourth quarters.
Assessing Director Matthew Lanefski said on Tuesday that most commercial and industrial property owners will see an increase as values soared.
The split classification is a standard practice in Bedford, and as a result, according to Lanefski, commercial, industrial, and personal property will pay some 40 percent of local taxes. That’s up from 37.7 percent last fiscal year. Without classification, the commercial and industrial share would be 23 percent, with a residential tax rate of $17.10.
Rebecca Neale, chair of the Board of Assessors, said the revaluation process resulted in higher property values, not only due to the market but also because “Bedford is a very desirable place to live.”
The process is challenging, and “the Assessing Department did a phenomenal job finishing revaluation ahead of schedule,” Neale said.
Town Manager Sarah Stanton agreed. Revaluation presents “an incredible amount of work for the Assessing Department.” She said Lanefski and Finance Director David Castellarin “have been talking about this since last summer.”
Also pleased with the outcome was resident Robert Kalantari, a former candidate for assessor. “The board did a great job,” Kalantari said on Zoom, noting that he performed a “spot check” that revealed increases in commercial values. In past years, Kalantari has contended that the properties were being undervalued.
Industrial values grew from $312,861,600 in fiscal year 2022 to $402,775,700 this year – an increase of almost 29 percent, according to assessors’ data. Besides overall higher values, “Most of the industrial increase is due to the new construction on Middlesex Turnpike,” Lanefski said, such as two buildings in the Bedford Woods office park.
Total commercial valuation increased from $491,651,925 to this year’s $550,847,026 – a 12 percent difference.
The total valuation for all categories includes additional estimates for new growth. The actual numbers won’t be available until state certification after Dec. 31, Stanton said.
Another variable in the calculation is personal property, which the Department of Revenue defines as “tangible items that are not firmly attached to land or buildings and are not specially designed for or of such a size and bulk to be considered part of the real estate. This includes, for example, merchandise, furniture, machinery, tools, animals, and equipment.”
Most items in a household are exempt from the assessment, under state law.
As Select Board member Ed Pierce pointed out, personal property fluctuates from year to year. Lanefski noted that there was an $11 million drop from 2022 to 2023, but an estimated $24 million was added to the current year.
The town’s tax rate recap sheet summarizes budgeted expenses and revenues, and segregates the income from sources like state and federal aid, local receipts, and reserves. The remainder is the tax levy.
Stanton said it is remarkable that “at a time when everything is increasing, our tax rate is decreasing.” She said when she shared that news with colleagues, “The universal response was, ‘Oh, please, don’t tell our town.’”