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Williamstown Sets Tax Rate for Fiscal 2019
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:17AM / Friday, August 03, 2018
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Prudential Committee members Ed Briggs, center, and Ed McGowan meet jointly with the Select Board. The town's two taxing authorities agreed that the town should continue with a unified tax rate.


Assessor Bill Barkin testifies at Monday's tax classification hearing.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday set a tax rate for fiscal 2019 that is $18.58 per $1,000 of property value. That is up just 8 cents from last year and represents an 11-cent increase on the town side and a 3-cent decrease in the Fire District portion.
 
The board met jointly on Monday with the Prudential Committee, which oversees the Fire District, to hold its annual tax classification hearing. As has been the town's practice, both bodies agreed to continue with a unified tax rate instead of shifting more of the burden onto commercial properties.
 
Assessor William Barkin told the bodies that was the unanimous recommendation of the Board of Assessors and a practice that he long has advocated, again summarizing his reasoning on Monday: the town has so few commercial properties that any attempt to shift the rate onto them would be unproductive and only serve to punish non-residents.
 
Barkin also reported that the town's FY19 tax rate at $18.58 per $1,000 was the number he submitted to the Department of Revenue.
 
The average single-family home is valued at $358,261, according to the state Department of Revenue, meaning a tax bill of $6,657 for fiscal 2019.
 
The fiscal 2018 rate was $17.94 for per $1,000 value for property taxes and another 56 cents per $1,000 for the Fire District. 
 
The Fire District, Prudential Committee member Ed Briggs said, anticipates a slightly lower cost this year for maintaining its trucks after a tough year for the district's "maintenance and operation" budget. Hoch also pointed out that as the district is responsible for street lights, electricity is a large percentage of its budget, and that budget therefore has seen significant benefits from the town's solar power installation on the capped landfill near the Transfer Station.
 
The Select Board also on Monday on a 4-1 vote approved extending an intermunicipal agreement with the town of Lanesborough to share the services of Andrew Groff, Williamstown's community development director.
 
The agreement allows the community development director "to attend meetings in Lanesborough, to prepare materials for said meetings and to provide any post-meeting legal documentation," at the request of Lanesborough's town administrator.
 
Hoch noted that encouraging development in Lanesborough ultimately serves Williamstown taxpayers since the two towns are part of a regional school district.
 
Select Board member Jeffrey Thomas, who in the past has raised concerns about overextending town personnel through such agreements, voted against the extension.
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