For 25 years liberals in California have been complaining about property tax-limiting Proposition 13, but at least seniors there aren't losing their homes, a very real threat in New England at the moment. How many can afford bills that have doubled since last year? No wonder the state is losing population.
Homeowners' property taxes in the vast majority of Massachusetts cities and towns will continue their upward climb in 2005, with double-digit percentage hikes in Boston, Cambridge, Everett, and at least 40 other cities and towns, and smaller increases in Newton, Somerville, and Milton, a Globe review has found.
The median property tax bill for single-family homes across Massachusetts will be $3,166 in 2005, 9 percent more than last year and up 38 percent from the 2000 tax bills. The rapid rise in property taxes that has burdened homeowners around the state will slow this coming year for residents of Boston and several neighboring communities, but in other nearby cities and towns it will accelerate, according to a Globe analysis of the 2005 tax figures recently approved by the state.
Homeowners' tax bills have been driven up by a divergence between soaring residential property values and stagnant commercial values, cuts in state aid, and voter-approved overrides of the state's annual property tax limit, according to local officials and tax specialists. The increases have prompted a call for a variety of fixes, including tax breaks for seniors and local taxing power for some communities, as politicians search for ways to shield homeowners.
The Globe examined the 2005 property tax rates in 305 of the state's 351 cities and towns for this article, and found that 285 of the cities and towns were increasing their average tax bills in 2005. The analysis relied on a median figure for the statewide figures, and an average for individual towns and cities.
The state's largest percentage increase was a 28 percent hike in Everett, where the average homeowner's bill will be $2,376. The deepest cut was a 7.4-percent drop in Hanson, south of Boston, where the average bill will be $3,218. The highest average bill was in Weston, at $11,767, up from $11,238 in 2004.