Letter: Capital Plan Will Require Increase In Property Taxes

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I am concerned that Scott Merzbach’s statement in his recent article “Jones Library Project is in Council’s Hands,”while not incorrect, may be misleading.  He writes in reference to the four bundled capital projects—the school, the public works building, the fire department, and the library—that “…taxes on the average single family home, now assessed at $375,507, would increase by around $250.”

This increase is from the Town’s Finance Committee report issued February 16, 2021, in which both average and maximum annual increases are projected.  While the annual average increase would be $250, the maximum increase would be $342.  By year ten, the average homeowner who now pays $8,194 would pay between $10,722 and $11,602.   

Additional extrapolation reveals the following:
Owners of $250,000 homes currently paying $5,455 will see tax increases of $182 to $244 annually.  By year ten, they’ll be paying $7,265 to $7,895.

Owners of $650,000 homes currently paying $14,183 will see tax increases of $472 to $635 annually.   By year ten, they’ll be paying $18,979 to $20,532.

These figures assume that the $21.82 per thousand property tax rate in Amherst remains in force, and that properties are not reassessed.  If home sale prices increase, a reassessment comes into play and the numbers may be even higher.

Such increases contradict Amherst’s efforts to maintain and increase affordable housing, and may result in residents having to move elsewhere.  Some Amherst homeowners may be able and willing to pay such increases, but many may not. 

All of us need to have the information necessary  to make an informed decision.

Mary Hoyer

Mary Hoyer is a resident of Amherst

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