New Bedford's residential property owners can expect a modest increase in their tax bills in the fiscal year that begins on July 1, while commercial property owners can expect to see a decrease.

The New Bedford City Council has approved a more business-friendly tax factor of 173 for FY21, which sets the property tax rate at $16.16 per thousand dollars valuation for residential properties, down from the current $16.43 per thousand, and $33.59 for commercial properties, down from the current $34.84 per thousand.

Even as the tax rate is decreased, the booming economy is driving the red hot real estate market and that is resulting in higher assessed property values. As a result, the average homeowner in New Bedford will experience a property tax increase of about $114 while the average commercial property owner will see a savings of about $152.

Establishing the tax factor now gives the Mitchell Administration and the city council a clearer picture of how much revenue to anticipate when drafting the budget for FY21.

Mayor Jon Mitchell tells me he understands the pressure taxpayers are under with their tax bills increasing each year and says it is time to begin examining ways to reduce spending to provide some relief. Mitchell says he has begun meeting with individual councilors to discuss ways to continue to fund needed services while easing the burden on taxpayers.

The cost of doing business for a city the size of New Bedford is astronomical. Spending reductions generate meager savings and are generally offset by rising payroll and health care costs. Elected officials must continue to seek out new revenue sources while more efficiently spending what taxpayers are ponying up.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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