Property taxes always seem to be on the rise, and this year is no exception in Watertown where the rate will rise 4.5 percent in 2013. But how do tax bills in Watertown compare to neighboring communities?
In 2012, Watertown residents paid a higher rate – $14.40 per $1,000 in assessed value – than surrounding towns, but Francis Golden, chairman of the Watertown Board of Assessors said that does not provide a clear picture.
If you look at the average tax bill, Golden said, Watertown's residential property tax bills fall in the middle of the pack. Town residents pay about half the amount of Belmont and Newton and two-thirds the amount of Arlington.
This occurs because homes are worth different amounts depending on the community.
"While it is true that more affluent cities and towns have many more high end properties which tend to drag up the average, it is also safe to say that the typical home in Watertown would be considerably more valuable were it placed in Newton or Belmont and, conversely, somewhat less valuable were it placed in Waltham," Golden said.
The bills are higher, however, than Cambridge, Boston and Waltham.
2012 Residential Property Tax RatesTown Tax Rate Ave. Tax Bill Arlington $13.66 $6,565 Belmont $13.35 $9,963 Boston $13.04 $3,305 Cambridge $8.48 $3,919 Newton $11.17 $8,912 Waltham $13.35 $3,952 Watertown $14.40 $4,730
Source: Watertown Board of Assessors
Watertown also provides a 20 percent residential exemption. That brought the rate down to $11.52 for owner-occupied properties in 2012. Not all communities offer the exemption. In 2012, Waltham offered a 20 percent residential exemption, and Boston and Cambridge had a 30 percent exemption.
Most surrounding communities also shift some of the tax burden to Commercial, Industrial and Personal (CIP) Property. Watertown uses a 175 percent shift. Arlington and Belmont do not have any shift, according to Golden's presentation.