Rising property values mean larger taxes on residents

Rising property values mean larger taxes on residents

PAWTUCKET – Single-family homes in Pawtucket have seen an average increase of 28 percent in value in the latest citywide and state-mandated revaluation, helping to fuel a shift of the city’s property tax burden from commercial property owners to homeowners.

Two-family homes, up 38 percent, three-families, up 53 percent, four-families, up 47 percent, and five-families, up 48 percent on average, are all showing the extent of the gap with commercial properties, which are only up 13 percent.

Pawtucket’s tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value would be “equalized” down from $21.14 to $16.79 with a separate tax increase factored in, while the commercial rate would go from $34.88 to $29.38 under Mayor Donald Grebien’s budget proposal. He’s proposing an overall increase in the tax levy, or total amount collected in taxes, of 3.73 percent.

The average owner of a home anywhere from a one-family to a five-family would see an increase of $275 total for the tax year. The average decrease in taxes on the commercial side would be about $795, according to officials.

The typical rule of thumb for a revaluation that one-third of property owners see an increase, one-third stay even, and one-third see decreased values will be off a bit this year, said Grebien’s Chief of Staff Dylan Zelazo, due mostly to such a large increase in residential property values in a hot real estate market and the “natural shifting” of the burden toward residential property owners in that market. Some residential property taxpayers will still see either a decrease or even taxes, while those who have improved their properties dramatically will see the largest increase.

Grebien’s total proposed budget increase is $6.45 million, or 4.73 percent, but the levy increase is $3.74 million, staying under the state’s 4 percent cap at 3.73 percent.

This year, Pawtucket was on its full revaluation cycle that only comes once every nine years. Statistical revaluations, which do not include visits to properties, are done every three years.

The overall residential tax rate would be its lowest since 2009, at $16.79, while the commercial rate would be its lowest since 2012, at $29.38.

About $1 million of the total increase of $6.45 million is for new school construction, continuing the city’s initiative to overhaul all of its schools over several years. The School Department is also set to receive a $500,000 budget increase under the plan.

Major revenue changes include a state aid increase of $3.1 million, including $1.8 million in motor vehicle state aid after a reduction of $800,000 in car tax collections. There is about a $4.3 million increase in combined property taxes not including car taxes.

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Zelazo noted that the city could go back to the days of deferring maintenance on buildings and roads (the city has paved more than 100 miles of roadway in five years) or not fully funding its obligations and keep taxes relatively even, but the administration believes that residents want these investments impacting quality of life and health and welfare in the city addressed.

Leaders, including on the City Council which will now consider the budget proposal, always try to approach every budget season with the idea of being fiscally responsible and concerned about taxpayers’ ability to pay, said Zelazo, and they’re trying once again this year to limit the impacts of the increases. An initial budget showed about a $10 million increase in need.

“We’re pleased that the tax rates are as low as they’ve been in over a decade,” he said.

Major initiatives include:

• The full renovation of Winters School, with Baldwin School and high school renovation processes beginning next.

• Continued operation of a fourth rescue.

• Maintaining a new community liaison, health and equity leader, and other community-based public safety initiatives, including the Family Services Go Team.

• Increased contributions to schools.

• Quality of life investments in Parks and Recreation facilities and code enforcement.

• Full funding of annual required pension contributions and continued contributions to the other post employment (OPEB) benefits trust fund.

• And increased economic development capacity to facilitate projects such as Tidewater Landing and development around the coming commuter rail station, as well as grant opportunities to save taxpayer dollars.

Major increases in costs are almost entirely structural and outside of officials’ control, said Zelazo, including $1.45 million in retiree benefits and $425,000 in pension contributions, the $500,000 to schools, $200,000 to the OPEB trust, $800,000 in contractual salary increases, $567,000 in fire overtime, $900,000 to fully resolve structural lag line issues from the last budget, and $1.4 million in increased debt service payments.

The fire overtime is due in large part to the expiration of federal grants that paid for new firefighters, but overtime pay is also tied to increased salaries and other factors.

Federal stimulus money is not factored into this budget, said Zelazo, and the city is still weeks away from receiving guidance from officials on how it is to be spent. Pawtucket has until December 2024 to spend the money, he said, and if it can be used to offset the tax burden in future years, officials will do so. In the meantime, officials will keep investing in such initiatives as improving fire safety and decreasing crime.

“We think we’re investing where residents want their dollars invested,” said Zelazo.


The city website tax assessor section shows the residential rate per 1000 at $ 20.89.

Also. Will I be charged for my res prop tax 3.73% more than what I pay now? Or 3.73% on the newly assessed tax bill?

I’m new to Pawtucket and already taxes are going up...Why couldn’t they keep them lowered for the sake of all new home owners to Pawtucket...I heard this extra payment we made last month was never seen in years...

Typical RI Democrats. Bad at managing the money we are forced to pay. A need for financial reform and reducing government cost to the taxpayers are rarely a concern to Pawtucket mayor's or council people. They are liable for alot of benefits to retired city employees - about half the budget goes to that. And they do not want to change.
We would need a big public uprising or the powers that be would have to radically 180 degree change their view of how the people should be treated.

Why do people complain about taxes going up every year? Expenses go up, so the town needs to collect more money. The only alternative is to cut services, which also makes people complain.