New Bedford Property Taxes Continue to Rise
New Bedford residents and businesses will once again feel the burden of higher property taxes in 2016.
During the annual tax classification hearing at City Hall Tuesday, the City Council voted on setting the FY16 tax factor at 175, placing the maximum allowable rate on businesses while setting the minimum on homeowners.
The factor passed by a 9-2 vote, with Councilor at Large Linda Morad and City Council President Brian Gomes voting against.
Residential tax rates will be set at $16.49 per $1,000 of valuation, a 7.22% increase, while the commercial tax rate will be set at $35.83 per $1,000, a 10.08% increase.
The owner of an average residential property, valued at $189,719, will see an increase of $211.
The average commercial property owner, valued at $408,977, will witness a $1,335 increase.
"Let's talk about the families that are living in our city," said Morad. "They have expenses for their children, for themselves, and now you're adding again an amount they didn't budget for - this hurts."
Morad was the only councilor to speak during the hearing and called current tax rates "unsustainable."
The business community will shoulder the bulk of the increase, just as it did this past year.
Rick Kidder, President/CEO of the New Bedford Chamber of Commerce, says with rates like these, it's only going to get tougher to attract new businesses.
"When we have the biggest tax rate that you can find on paper, it's going to be very, very difficult for a business to be excited about being in New Bedford," Kidder said.
Ward Three Councilor Henry Bousquet also weighed in on the impact these rates are having on small business.
"I feel like we need to give the businesses some relief, even if it's obligatory, even if it doesn't really make that big a difference. We got to give them something to show we're willing to work with them but I feel like we just didn't get that tonight," Bousquet said.
One number that stuck out during the brief hearing was, according to the New Bedford Assessor's Office, only 19 single family homes were built in 2015. Ward Six Councilor Joe Lopes believes higher tax rates will slow down city growth even more.
"The economy hasn't turned around, people are still under employed, people aren't getting raises as they were prior to 2008, 2009 when the housing market took off. The housing market is still weak...the housing market hasn't turned around in New Bedford and we're just adding another issue to slow it down," Lopes said.
The city expects to collect $109,239,619 in property taxes in 2016.