At a Dec. 7 public hearing, the Edgartown select board voted to keep its single tax rate for the upcoming year.
Edgartown has seen an increase in the town’s total taxable value, Edgartown’s principal assessor Patti Roads said, having jumped to $12.7 billion this year, from last year’s $10.6 billion — a 19.5 percent increase.
Subject to approval by the state Department of Revenue, “the estimated fiscal year 2023 tax rate is $2.52 for single tax rate for all [tax] classes,” Roads said, a reduction of $.51 per $1,000 valuation from last year.
The growth amount’s final value for 2023, $376,849, was approved by the Department of Revenue on Dec. 2. The excess levy capacity for 2023 is just under $2.3 million.
The board opted to maintain the town’s existing single tax rate and voted not to grant a residential exemption. A residential exemption would have shifted the tax burden to seasonal residents.
The vote also allows for both residential and commercial properties to enjoy the same tax rate. “There’s a vast difference between commercial property and a residential property of similar value,” Roads said, “and what the different tax bills would be.”
Edgartown is 93 percent residential, she said, which is significantly less than in other, larger municipalities with more commercial properties.
“I know how I feel about it,” select board member Arthur Smadeck said. “Have the assessors weighed in?”
Board of assessors member Donna Goodale said the board is awaiting response from the state, but generally is supportive of a single tax rate for residential, nonresidential, and commercial properties. Smadbeck agreed, as the town has maintained a single tax rate for some time.
“Unless there was some overriding reason why we would [change it],” Smadbeck said, “I’m not inclined to make such a radical change in how Edgartown does its taxing.”
“And I’m not in agreement with residents versus nonresidents,” he said, with “shifting of burdens to our summer population … the taxes they pay go a long way to supporting everything we do.”
Smadbeck said, “Somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of [Edgartown] taxes” come from seasonal residents. “We’re already getting a big benefit from them,” he said, and for that reason, “I don’t want to deviate.”
Select board chair Margaret Serpa agreed. “We’ve done this tax rate all along … it’s worked,” she said, “especially because of the ratio of businesses and residential properties.”
Smadeck noted “concern” over the valuation, and how it may play into Islandwide agreements in the future. Based on equalized valuations, Edgartown contributes over 40 percent, he said: “I’d hate to think that we’re slowly moving toward 50 percent of the bill.”
“When we jump 20 percent in our assessed valuations,” Smadback said, “there’s the possibility that if the other towns don’t jump the same amount, that the percentage that Edgartown could be paying in any of these regional things could go up again.”
Roads confirmed that other Island towns have also seen significant jumps in their equalized valuations.