Council Approves Residential Tax Exemption
By: Laura M. Reckford
The Barnstable Town Council approved a residential tax exemption of 20 percent last night, just as they have the last several years.
The exemption gives a tax break of several hundred dollars to the 12,500 taxpayers who own permanent residences in the town of Barnstable that are assessed at less than about $900,000.
Giving those taxpayers a break raises the total tax rate as well as the rate for those with properties over $900,000.
It is that disparity for the owners of higher valued properties that Town Councilor James H. Crocker Jr. of Osterville referred to when he suggested the exemption be lowered to 10 percent.
Town Councilor James F. Munafo Jr. of Hyannis agreed but the motion did not pass and the 20 percent exemption was approved by a vote of 9 to 3.
Mr. Crocker, Mr. Munafo and Ann B. Canedy of Cummaquid voted against it.
The town will receive more than $97 million in property taxes this year, up from $94 million last year.
“Your decision tonight is who is going to pay that $97 million,” Jeff Rudziak, Barnstable Director of Assessing, told the council.
The town’s board of assessors recommend not shifting the tax burden as a way to keep taxes as equitable as possible, he said.
But voters in a non-binding question several years ago were heavily in favor of the residential exemption.
For a median value home of $311,000, the residential exemption would save the property owner $489 at a rate of $8.42 per $1,000.
The councilors also voted for a so-called factor of one as it relates to residential and commercial taxes.
Councilors have the option of shifting more of tax rate to commercial property owners.
But business leaders urged the council not to do that.
The vote to keep the tax rate the same for both residential and business was 11 to 1, with only J. Gregory Milne of Hyannis voting against it.
By a tie vote of 6 to 6, the council declined to give a tax break to 184 property owners of commercial properties containing small businesses.
While some councilors argued the break on taxes would help the economy, others argued it was not worth shifting the burden.
Voting for the exemption were Mr. Crocker, Janet Joakim, Mr. Milne, James Tinsley Jr., Richard G. Barry, and Janice L. Barton.
It was the last meeting for Mr. Crocker and Mr. Munafo, as well as Henry C. Farnham of West Barnstable.
All three lost battles for reelection earlier this month.
Gregory Milne and Richard G. Barry of Cotuit also reached the end of their terms last night, because of term limits. Both have served on the council for 12 years.
All five men received standing ovations from their fellow councilors and from the audience, as well as plaques and watches as gifts, a surprise planned by Town Council President Frederick Chirigotis.
In other council news, Councilor John T. Norman of Marstons Mills said after the meeting that an effort to recall him initiated last month was unsuccessful as the signatures were not turned into the town clerk in the required 10 days.
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