Tax classification in Swampscott


Swampscott Board of Selectmen

Jill G. Sullivan, Chair

22 Monument Avenue

Swampscott, MA 01907


Dear Jill, Glenn, Barry, Matt and John:


                I am writing to the Board as an owner of a commercial parcel of property on Pitman Road and am aware the Board will be establishing the tax classification ratios at the meeting tonight.

I respectfully request the Board consider reducing the current tax ratio for commercial property from the maximum 1.75% allowed by law to at least 1.70%. 

Tax classification was enacted by the legislature shortly after the Massachusetts Supreme Court required all municipalities to tax at full and fair valuation .Municipalities had historically valued commercial property high and residential property low. The new legislation allowed this practice to continue and set a limit of 175 % as the limit. Swampscott is one of the 112 municipalities out of 342 that has elected to be “business unfriendly” and became more unfriendly by electing to be one of the very few communities to tax at the highest ratio allowed.

I acknowledge Swampscott seems to have spent itself into a situation wherein we have the 21st highest residential rate and the 5th highest commercial rate in the entire Commonwealth. Although The rankings provided by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance reveal only Springfield at a ratio of 2.0; Maynard at a ratio of 1.5 ; and Fitchburg at a ratio of 1.32 have residential tax rates higher than Swampscott. The other 17 communities all are on a SINGLE RATE basis. We are probably number 4 residential and number 5 for commercial on an equalized basis. How does this impact an owner of commercial property? The Starbucks property in Vinnin Square is a good example. Across Vinnin Street is Salem, across Paradise Road is Marblehead.  Swampscott Assessors value the property at $ 2,582,300, thus taxes paid to Swampscott was $ 90,432.15. Move the same parcel across Vinnin Street to Salem the taxes would be $81,239.16. Move the property across Paradise Road and the taxes would be $ 28,617.95.In the past when I have suggested Marblehead is friendly to business and has survived just fine with a single rate system, some, then members of the Board, have bristled and claimed our Swampscott is different . How so? Vinnin Square is Vinnin Square.

I am not asking the Board to return to a single rate system, I am only asking you to pull back from the extreme and lower the ratio if you possibly are able. 

Thank you for any consideration you may afford this request.           

 Yours truly, 

William R. DiMento

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