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Purpose of Outreach Sessions 1.Develop common understanding of facts as a basis for discussion and decisions on public policy for Williamstown 2.Outline.

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Presentation on theme: "Purpose of Outreach Sessions 1.Develop common understanding of facts as a basis for discussion and decisions on public policy for Williamstown 2.Outline."— Presentation transcript:

1 Purpose of Outreach Sessions 1.Develop common understanding of facts as a basis for discussion and decisions on public policy for Williamstown 2.Outline Planning Board projects for Solicit public input on both of the above

2 We pay too much property tax –Local government and school spending are out of line –We get too little state aid The best option to avoid tax increases is new growth, but protected land and onerous regulations stifle growth Taxes and Growth: Conventional Wisdom

3 How do our property tax bills compare? Measurement*AmountRank Avg. household property tax bill (2008)$4,63587/ – In 1988 we ranked 20 places higher * Values do not count Williams students in population figures Source: Massachusetts Department of Revenue bill08.xls

4 One-in-six Williamstown property tax payers spent 30% or more of their household income on housing costs in 1999 Source: 2000 US Census H97 For how many of us are property taxes a hardship?

5 One-in-six Williamstown property tax payers spent 30% or more of their household income on housing costs in 1999 Surprisingly, we ranked near the bottom – 329 th out of 351 towns in Massachusetts – in this metric Source: 2000 US Census H97

6 $1,799 $42,926 $2,826 $75,366 SourcesAverage Household Income 1999:US Census Average Household Income 1990:Estimated from US Census household income distribution data Average Household Property Tax Bills:Massachusetts Department of Revenue (no median tax bill data available) Has there been any trend in property tax affordability?

7 Is spending for local government and schools out of line? Measurement*AmountRank Municipal spending/resident (2007)$2,466150/351 * Values do not count Williams students in population figures

8 Do we get too little state aid? Measurement*AmountRank State aid/resident (2007)$432122/351 * Values do not count Williams students in population figures

9 The best option to avoid tax increases is new growth, but protected land and onerous regulations stifle growth From a fiscal standpoint, how important is new growth? –What kind of new growth are we talking about? Do local regulations and our fondness for open space inhibit new growth (and thereby have a negative fiscal impact)?

10 New Growth and the Budget Budget is initially proposed as revenue limited, not expense driven. – Peter Fohlin Yearly expectation is that total municipal revenues will increase by about 3.5% - based in part on an annual increase in revenue from taxes on existing property that is at or near Proposition 2½ limits, and in part on an annual property tax revenue boost from new growth In recent years, the revenue from property taxes has been approaching $12M, increasing by around $480K per year. About $260K of that comes from what is allowed by Prop 2½, and another $220K comes from tax revenue on new growth To get that $220K boost from new growth requires around $15-19M of new growth, depending on tax rate

11 New growth revenue break-down Source: Assessors new growth data and building permit data

12 Is subdivision and new home construction important? If all subdivision and new home construction ceased (and we increased taxes to make up for the lost tax revenue), our average property tax bill would increase by an additional $34 each year –From $190/year to $224/year

13 … protected land and onerous regulations stifle growth How much land do we have available for growth?

14 Open Space – Numbers Total Williamstown acreage:30,005 Protected Open Space:11,673 1 Upland Conservation District:4,254 exclusive of the above 2 15,927 acres, or 53% of land is formally or practically protected from development 1 - From MassGIS Open Space 2/08 data layer. This includes but is not limited to: Mount Greylock Reservation (3,518); Other State-Owned Land (2,730); Hopkins Forest (1,990); Conservation Commission (515); Rural Lands Foundation (454); Trustees of Reservations (430) 2 - The total area of the Upland Conservation District is 11,571 acres, but much of it overlaps with protected open space Chapter 61, 61A and 61B lands not included

15 Chapter 61 forestry 2,870 acres Chapter 61A agricultural 4,243 acres Chapter 61B recreation lands 543 acres Between 1997 and 2008, the fraction of the tax base shielded by Chapter 61 increased from 3.0% to 4.9% Source: Assessors Chapter Land data Not to be confused with…

16 With all that Open Space, is there any land left for people (and development)? Williamstown ranks 116 th out of 351 towns in the amount of non-protected land per- capita*: 2.2 acres * Williams College student population excluded Source: MassGIS OpenSpace datalayer, February 2008 (Hopkins Forest and Clark Art Institute were added to Williamstown measure)

17 Are regulations stifling growth? You need to ask: In comparison to what? –Williamstowns regulations and enforcement dont seem to be unusual (with the possible exception of the Upland Conservation District) One investigation* suggests that… –Regulations may inhibit subdivision of land –Found no evidence that they inhibit home building * Patrick Dunlavey, Presented to the Williamstown Planning Board, July 2008

18 Why do we rank high on average household tax bill? Measurement*AmountRank Avg. household property tax bill (2008)$4,63586/ – In 1988 we ranked 20 places higher * Values do not count Williams students in population figures

19 Commercial pulls its weight Source: Massachusetts Department of Revenue lvcl08.xls Williamstown ranks 148 th out of 313 towns in proportion of revenue contributed by commercial, industrial and personal property taxes Among small towns (>4,000 & <12,000 population), we rank 34/97

20 Tax-Exempt Stands Out Source: Massachusetts Department of Revenue propertyvalues08.xls With 29.4% tax-exempt property, Williamstown ranks 3 rd highest out of 313 towns Top Ten Tax-Exempt Valuations Municipality% of Total HUNTINGTON42.0% MOUNT WASHINGTON32.9% WILLIAMSTOWN29.4% DEERFIELD25.9% PETERSHAM25.5% CHELSEA24.0% BOSTON23.9% CAMBRIDGE22.5% LINCOLN22.1% NEW SALEM21.1%

21 Summing up Our taxes are somewhat higher than expected –theyre more affordable to us than most towns –theyre not affordable to a significant minority Growth imperative may be overrated Regulation and protected land are probably not significantly inhibiting growth Tax-exempt property probably explains high tax bills

22 Its not all about money Demographics –Were moving to an older, less diverse population –Declining school enrollments could continue Community Values & Vision –See Williamstown Master Plan, Open Space Plan, etc.

23 Planning Board Projects for Review of Village Business District Current Village Business District (VBD) is comprised of two non-contiguous areas - one generally comprised of Spring Street, the other by upper Water Street Current purpose is to accommodate a broad mixture of uses in a compact pedestrian-oriented environment Master plan calls for promoting growth in downtown core Recent permitting for Spring Street project identified several obstacles to growth

24 Village Business District (cont) Goal of VBD review is to see if acceptable development can be facilitated Under consideration: Review amount of set-back from residential uses Adding special permit authority to increase building heights above 35 feet Review requirement for on-site stormwater recharge if storm sewer is available Need for more off-street parking for Water and Spring Possible linkage of VBD between Spring Street and Water Street

25 The Village Business District

26 Planning Board Projects for Low Impact Development Perennial problem of flooding – damage to homes and property, erosion, damage to water resources New developments may increase flooding if not planned properly Low Impact Development (LID) is an approach to stormwater management that relies on low-tech controls at the source Goal is to ensure that flood control after development is better than or equal to pre-development conditions

27 Low Impact Development (cont) Goal is to control stormwater at the source through small- scale management techniques, rather than just pipe all water to a low point and discharge. Key elements include the practice of reducing impervious cover, and using green space and natural areas to allow control of flow and to promote percolation Use of permeable pavements, rain gardens, grassed swales Part of effort is to reduce the building envelope to what is needed, so that other permeable areas allow for infiltration Less reliance on large structures like detention basins, catch basins and and pipes


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