NEW BEDFORD - City Council passed a decrease in property taxes on New Bedford businesses and homes for 2018, but some elected officials believe the drop may only be temporary with the upcoming reevaluation of properties by the Assessor's Office.

In a tax classification hearing with the Board of Assessors on Wednesday night, City Council voted 9-2 to decrease property tax rates by six cents per $1,000 of assessed value on city residences and to decrease the commercial rate by 38-cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate New Bedford homeowners paid in 2017, $16.69 per $1,000 of assessed value, will drop to $16.63. Commercial rates will drop from $36.03 per $1,000 of assessed value to be lowered to $35.65. The new rates will become effective starting in January of 2018.

Councilor At-Large Linda Morad and Ward Two Councilor Steven Martins voted against the rates. Morad cites the budget passed by the council in June that saw cuts of just under a million dollars. She says that if more was cut from the budget it would have provided a “significantly” lower tax rate than what was set in the Wednesday hearing.

“I had recommended a lot of cuts in the budget in June. Unfortunately, I didn't have the support of my colleagues in all of that,” said Morad. “We cut a little less than a million dollars this year, and I had made recommendations of a little over three million. That would have significantly reduced the amount of the tax rate that we had to set tonight.”

Martins and Morad claim to have expressed similar values on how the tax rate should be set in the Whaling City, something that Martins says has been consistent. Martins also called for a better relationship between the Assessors Department and City Council and even suggested publicizing Assessors meetings on local access programming for easier public access.

“Instead of just coming here once a year they (Board of Assessors) should come here quarterly,” Martins said. “They should have some meetings with the council as well to set up correctly for the budget and for the tax rate. And that's my no vote on behalf of the taxpayer who's struggling every single day.”

While Councilor At-Large Naomi Carney voted with eight other councilors to pass the rate for 2018, she also says that property reevaluations set for 2019 could boost the rates back up.

“I'm very concerned about next year and when they reevaluate properties and property values going up,” Carney said. “What's that going to look like? What's that going to look like for the homeowners and business owners? I think we need to look at finding another source of funding for the city so we don't have to impose these increases on our residents, because it's getting difficult.”


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