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Increased Tax Rate Projected for Upton

The Upton Board of Assessors recommended a single tax rate of $16.72 per thousand, up $1.69 over last year's rate, for all property owners during a November 20 tax classification public hearing during a Board of Selectmen's meeting. The Board of Assessors also projected the tax rate to increase once again. Assessors Charles Marsden, Glenn Fowler, and Teresa Ambrosino attended the meeting.

Upton is divided into four different tax classes; residential property makes up 93.7 percent of the community, commercial is 2.5 percent, personal property totals 2.9 percent, and industrial is less than one percent. The Assessors explained that because commercial and industrial properties make up such a small percentage of total property in the community, raising the taxes on only those two classes would not significantly affect anyone's rate. As a result, the Board unanimously approved a single tax rate for everyone.

"Even if we doubled their tax rate, it would have no impact," said Board of Assessors Chair Charles Marsden. Selectman Chair Ken Picard agreed. "That really would cause significant heartache for those businesses," he said.

The Assessors also went on to discuss the preliminary new tax rate for the community, which according to Marsden, is projected to increase from last year's rate of $15.03 to $16.72 per thousand for Fiscal Year 2013. However, the Department of Revenue has not yet certified that new rate, as a result, it is not confirmed.

Several reasons factor into the increase, including decreased property values and local receipts. "It's no surprise that property values have gone down over the years and Upton has not been excluded from that," said Marsden. "When property values go down, taxes go up." Other factors for the increase include the additional debt exclusion passed for the third water source as well as increased school and town budgets. Part of that new rate also includes other debt exclusions for the schools, the fire station, the water treatment plant, and Stefans Farm.

According to a report from the Board of Assessors, during various town meetings, residents approved a financial budget and articles that require the town to raise approximately $568,000 more through taxation. As voted on by residents, the total amount of money to be raised through the tax levy, plus the seven approved debt exclusions is $15,691,264 for Fiscal Year 2013.

"The tax rate is built upon what the people of Upton vote to spend. It's not that Board or this Board," said Selectman Robert Fleming. "It's the citizens of the town that elect to spend the money that determines what their taxes rates are."

Upton's tax bills are paid on a quarterly basis. The first two bills are based on the previous year's tax rate and value. The following two payments are based on the new tax rate for Fiscal Year 2013, plus the town's Community Preservation Act's surcharge.


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