I just got my jaw-dropping 3rd quarter
real estate tax bill. Chelmsford now has the distinction of being the 44th most
expensive town in Massachusetts, far ahead of Tewksbury (144), Billerica (203), Tyngsboro (107), Westford (110),
and even just ahead of Carlisle
What's causing the inflation-beating, salary-outstripping relentless rise in our property taxes? It's a story of compound interest. The town continues to increase its tax rate year to year by the maximum permitted by the state: 2.5%. So regardless of whether the value of your house goes up or down, it's irrelevant. The tax rate for the assessed value of your house is compounding at 2.5%.
That means if the assessed value of your house is 500K, you're currently paying $2,460 ($17.95 per $1,000) per quarter. If the trend continues, in 5 years, you'll be paying $2,719. In 10 years, you'll be paying $3,080. In 15 years, you'll be paying $3,490. If this continues unchecked, Chelmsford could be one of the most expensive towns in Massachusetts within a decade. One underlying problem is the town’s refusal to consider taxing commercial property at a higher level than residential.
What is soaking up the money? You'll have to ask the Town Manager and Selectmen. Also speak to the Assessor's office and the Treasurer/Collector. One reason is the capital budget: pouring tens of millions into a sewage system while neglecting other critical infrastructure, particularly the electrical grid and street lights. The school system, while good, is not outstanding or comparable to Westford's, for example. Another probable cause: the generous pensions that town employees enjoy but few residents do.
*Source: The Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance