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New tax rates set

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On average, homeowners will pay $345 more, businesses $736 less, under plan approved by selectmen for FY2022

  The owner of an average single-family home in Saugus valued at $509,307 will pay $6,117 in taxes next year – $345 more than this year. Meanwhile, the tax bill for an average commercial property, valued at $1,728,066, will be $42,992 – a decrease of $736 over this year.

  Those scenarios will take effect as a result of the new tax rates for the 2022 fiscal year (FY) approved unanimously on Tuesday (Dec. 7) night by the Board of Selectmen, pending approval by the state Department of Revenue (DOR). A tax rate analysis presented by the Saugus Board of Assessors showed a 5.6 percent increase in the average homeowner’s tax bill, while commercial and industrial property owners can expect an average reduction of 1.7 percent. Once again, selectmen followed their past practice of recent years by adopting a plan calculating the lowest possible residential factor – a plan that would tax commercial, industrial and personal (CIP) property at a maximum share of the tax levy for the 2022 FY at 175 percent.

  But Deputy Assessor Ron Keohan noted that the benefit of the maximum allowable tax shift may not be as apparent to residential homeowners once they get their tax bills next year. “The commercial [properties] gets a little bit of a break,” he told selectmen.

  Keohan said residential property values “continue to go crazy.” “I don’t even want to talk about it … It’s so insane,” he said.

  “Your average single family home here in Saugus is like $467,000 right now,” he said.

  To that state of the local property values report, Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano interjected “good luck finding one for that money.”

  But Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree sought to put Saugus in a favorable light when comparing the town’s property tax situation to surrounding communities. “The most important thing for the residents at home to understand – Saugus is a great bargain for the taxes we’re paying for the full-service community we are,” Crabtree said.

  “We’re a community that doesn’t have a trash fee. We have a full time Fire Department 24 hours a day. There’s a lot of things that are full service here,” he said.

  Crabtree stressed “you can’t understate” that Saugus’s current average homeowner’s tax bill of $5,772 “is considerably lower” than in any of the surrounding communities.

  “It’s really extraordinary that we have a low average tax bill,” he said. He noted that Stoneham, with an average residential tax bill of $6,114, is the next lowest among surrounding communities.

  Crabtree challenged anyone to tell him where they could move in the surrounding area to find an average tax bill lower than what homeowners pay in Saugus. “It’s not going to happen,” he said.

  Keohan agreed with Crabtree, adding “Saugus is without question the best bang for the buck around.”

  Here are some of the highlights of the tax classification hearing:

  • No residents spoke during two public comment periods at the meeting, either for or against the tax reclassification.
  • The average valuation of a single-family home in Saugus has increased by $41,554, from $467,753 (FY 2021) to $509,307 (FY 2022).
  • The average valuation for commercial property has increased by $29,221 from $1,698,845 (FY 2021) to $1,728,066 (FY 2022).
  • There was a decrease in tax rates. Overall, residential tax rates in Saugus decreased from $12.34 for $1,000 of assessed valuation to $12.01 – a 33-cent drop. Meanwhile, CIP tax rates dipped from $25.74 for $1,000 of assessed valuation to $24.87 – an 87-cent decrease.
  • The projected new growth has slightly decreased over last year for residential, commercial and personal property classes, from $1,146,652 (FY 2021) to $846.72.
  • Residential properties account for 83 percent of the town’s total valuation of $5.7 billion.
  • While CIP taxpayers account for about 17 percent of the tax valuation in town, they contribute about 30 percent in tax revenue.

  If Saugus homeowners want to learn why their taxes increased, they can go online, Board of Selectmen Vice-Chair Debra Panetta said. Taxpayers who think they are being over-assessed on their property can find out how their property compares to neighboring properties, and they can seek an abatement, she said.

Sizing up Saugus’s tax bill

  Compared to the FY 2021 residential tax bills of other area towns, Saugus’s will remain considerably lower than most, the Board of Assessor’s report noted:

                        Average          Average

Community    home value    single family tax bill

Saugus           $467,754         $5,772

Lynnfield         $699,580         $9,283

Melrose           $657,097         $7,195

Reading          $657,312         $9,077

Stoneham       $565,130         $6,114

Wakefield        $588,200         $7,488

(Editor’s Note: Information compiled by the Saugus Board of Assessors.)

Sizing up Saugus’s tax rates

  Here’s how the residential tax rate in Saugus for FY 2021 compares with residential tax rates of other area towns:

  • Saugus – $12.34
  • Lynnfield – $13.27
  • Melrose – $10.95
  • Reading – $13.81
  • Stoneham –$10.82
  • Wakefield – $12.73

  The report also noted how the CIP tax rate for Saugus compared to FY 2021 CIP rates of other area towns:

  • Saugus – $25.74
  • Lynnfield – $19.29
  • Melrose – $18.69
  • Reading – $14.06
  • Stoneham –$20.50
  • Wakefield – $24.67

Projected Fiscal 2022 Taxes Paid/Percentage

Residential – $56.4 million     70 percent

Commercial – $16.9 million    21 percent

Industrial – $3.9 million           5 percent

Personal – $3.3 million           4 percent

Total – $80.5 million   100 percent

Class              Value (Fiscal 2022)

Residential      $4.7 billion

Commercial    $679.5 million

Industrial         $158.7 million

Personal          $131.9 million

Total                $5.7 billion

New Growth Comparison in Saugus*

Fiscal Year      New Growth

2022                     $846,712

2021                  $1,146,652

2020                  $1,439,524

2019                     $862,574

2018                     $792,016

2017                     $744,103

2016                     $477,878

2015                   $1,585,111

(Editor’s Note: Information compiled by the Saugus Board of Assessors.)

  *New growth is the increase in the tax base due to new construction, parcel subdivision, condominium conversions and property renovations but not due to revaluation. It is calculated by multiplying the increased assessed valuation by the prior year’s tax rate for the appropriate class of property.

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