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December 16, 2007



And what is it I'm getting for the increaased taxes? Is the city going to shovel my sidewalk? Will they come get the garbage can from my back yard for me? Will they clear the snow off my car every morning? Are they going to rebuild the East Somerville school?

It'd be nice to get a reason for the tax increase...


Can anyone explain why a condiminium owner is facing a much smaller increase? And not just the rate itself, but the percentage of increase is much smaller.
Also, this shows how, even when property values go down, taxes can still go up. Explaining once again why many longtime homeowners 'cash in' and sell.....the value of the home they've owned for 50 years suddenly increases, which means their taxes increase also. They often can't afford the increased taxes, and get no benefit from the increased value unless they sell. It's a double-edged sword, for sure.


Seriously, what's the rationale for the differential increase? It seems unfair to me. Why are single-family owners penalized? Increases should affect ALL residential properties the same way, percentwise. Why is the tax increase to the owner of a 400K condo 4 times lees than that to the owner of a 400K single home?
Can somebody report on what kind of properties the aldermen own? I suspect there may be a conflict of interest here.


When your MAYOR does not own and gets a very large raise in his salary, the ALDERPERSONS get a very large salary increase along with the SCHOOL COMMITTEE person and the DPW can afford a big new Caddy for his wife along with the other perks. THAT IS WHY YOUR TAXES GO UP AFTER THE ELECTION.You don't think that he would have the big one's to tell before do you BUT BEAN knew!


Rereading the article, there is some ambiguity. Were the rates different because of different average increases in property values (thus resulting in de facto differential increase rates - single family homes appreciated the most, and so on)? Or were they set by the Aldermen ad hoc?... I think it's the first one.


Are we paying for the cost of city services, or for the 'value' of our properties? This is the exact reason so many long time residents 'cash in' and sell their homes. People think they do it for the pay out, but they do it because they've owned a home for 50 years - the home has changed very little, city services have changed very little, and yet the 'value' has increased, and property taxes increase with that. You receive a benefit from an increase in a property's value only when you sell the property. Other than that, you experience a loss because of the increase in taxes. There are many who simply cannot afford it. And I would venture to guess that property values have dropped at least a little this year. However, city spending has increased, and that's really what it's all about. This is their way of paying for their salaries and their perks.
And for this I'm supposed to pay more taxes AND get the East Somerville School stocked with supplies?


Hey - we are the ones who elected all the city officials back into office. This is totally crazy - the city of boston's taxes are going down. As for city services - 1) these F###en snow plows keep plowing me in after shoveling out my driveway (it happened to me 6 times yesterday and the guys in the truck go by and laugh at you) (2) the trash collectors have totally destroyed my barrel's that I put out and they are never left in front of my own home, I have to walk 2 houses down to get mine back. What the HELL is happening to this city??? Really there is no one to blame but the people who elect the same officials back into office. Bad time to sell my home but I think I'll rent it out and buy elsewhere now. It's a shame.


LOL. Also, can somebody explain to me WHY, the super duper cyber city system does not allow one to pay a water bill online AFTER the deadline?


This increase is substantially less than inflation. City costs include health insurance premiums for everyone, salaries, people get COLAs. Of course property taxes go up each year and all things considered this is a trivial increase.


Funny that people in Somerville who cannot afford health insurance, despite the brilliant MA plan, still have to pay for some stranger's health insurance and bonuses. Perhaps for those same cops who do nothing all day, just standing at public construction sites on Somerville Av!

City costs include health insurance premiums for everyone, salaries, people get COLAs.


I'm not really interested in whether this increase has any correlation to the rate of inflation. Most private sector employees (myself included) do not get a raise because of the rate of inflation. It is annoying that city and state employees get this as a matter of course, and I am expected to pay for it.
I see that noone can explain the differences in the percent of the increase. Do condo owners have a better lobby? Or is it part of the city's overall scheme (giveaway) to developers, by allowing them to promise their owners cheaper taxes than what is paid by the riffraff. Again, the city seems to be bending over backwards for people who come in and buy over-priced condos, and noone cares about the poor homeowner who can't afford to live here!

Ron Newman

Sounds to me like condominiums simply didn't appreciate in value as much as other residential properties, so their tax bills went up less.


Condo property taxes are paid per unit. Based on the coverage here, it seems to me each unit will increase by .5%. A home with 6 condo units would actually have an overall increase of 3% - more than a single family. Maybe I'm reading it incorrectly.


Your answers are irrlevant. Many condo units are larger than a single family home in the city. Why, then, would their increase be .5%. while a single family would see an increase of 1.9%? The number of units doesn't matter because each unit owner pays the taxes, regardless of how many units are in the building. And I would suspect that condo units perhaps appreciated more than single family homes in the city. And I think there should be a decision made as to whether we are paying taxes based on appreciation or the cost of services. Our taxes go up when value goes up, but when values go down, the taxes do not also go down, and we're told we have to cover the cost of city services. Which is it???


Our taxes go up when value goes up,

Did taxes double between '99 and '05 when values did? No. They went up, but not as much as values did. When they did go up, it had more to do with cuts in state aid than rising property values.

I know I sound like PR for the city, but cripes, Somerville has the best of both worlds on property taxes. We get high state aid because of our overall low incomes, which shifts a lot of city costs from property owners to the state, and we don't have the same education costs as other towns because we have so many childless people here as a share of the population. People in NJ and NH, not to mention plenty of towns in Massachusetts, would kill to have a 1.1% tax rate with a big residential exemption.

No one likes to pay more in taxes and sure we can all think of ways the city isn't spending money wisely, but this is nothing.


And I would suspect that condo units perhaps appreciated more than single family homes in the city.

Why would you guess that? A lot of condos just appeared in the last couple of years out of old rentals, and it looks like anyone who invested in one lost his shirt. Single-family homes have been around a lot longer and have had more of a sustained run-up in values.


This is the key point, I think:
>> The new residential tax rate will be $10.95 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. <<

That means that a 400K condo would pay the same taxes as a 400K single-family. But, according to the numbers, a 400K condo only appreciated 0.5% on average, whereas a 400K single-family appreciated 1.9%. But what numbers are these? MA? Somerville? Why isn't there a public document explaining in detail how these numbers were calculated?

Ron Newman

> Based on the coverage here, it seems to me each unit will increase by .5%. A home with 6 condo units would actually have an overall increase of 3% - more than a single family.

No, if each unit increases by 0.5%, then the total obviously must increase by 0.5% as well.

Ron Newman

> what numbers are these? MA? Somerville? Why isn't there a public document explaining in detail how these numbers were calculated?

The assessor's office knows what type of property each tax bill is associated with, so it's pretty simple math for them to calculate the average rate increase for each type.

I like rabbit fer dinnah


let us know when you lesss whiner:>)My gut feeling is that Freddie B, Marty M and anyone Carl S endorsed were not going to lower any of our taxes! Longtime folks have moved out cause they can't stand not having regular folks living next door to them any longer all replaced by snowbunnies

I like rabbit my rabbit rare


Ok, the assessor's office knows. Why cannot the rest of us know? For what I know they are making up numbers...

The Mole

I deduce it is more important to get the snow piles away from SOD territory than it is by the Schools and other City buildings.

The DPW was working early hours this morning in Ball Square removing snow from the sidewalks and parking areas around the entire Square. Three dump trucks and front end loaders were scrapping the snow away and hauling it to who knows where, probably the Homans building parking lot.

Why not clear the corners to the schools so the children can be seen rather than exposing them to vehicular traffic that possibly, can not see the little people? No, SOD gets them to clear the square for personnel reasons I am sure.

My taxes, as well as all citizens of Somerville are just being wasted on the wrong things.

The Mole


that is funny MOLE because Ball Square looked pretty unshoveled to me. I am surprised you didn't blame the snow on SOD.....


I know this is a late post but many of you seem quite confused!

If Somerville is taxing us on a % basis, then taxes automatically go up when housing value goes up.

There is absolutely no excuse for increasing this % unless we are getting more services, or there was an unexpected price decline and services we care a lot about are being cut. Inflation has NOTHING to do with this as home prices usually keep up well with it.

Philippines property

What a fantastic blog!!I loved how detailed each of the entries were.They were well balanced - fun and informative. Thanks for this.

Deirdre G

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