LONDONDERRY — Town Manager Kevin Smith said he’s been fielding calls from residents who received their twice-annual tax bills in the mail last week and noticed a significant increase from recent years.
Some are seeing their home property tax bills jump an extra $1,000 from what they expected to owe.
Smith said this year’s higher bills are driven partly by a town and school budget increase and largely by a revaluation this year that saw property values spike by half a billion dollars town-wide.
“Property values have skyrocketed in the town,” Smith said.
The local revaluation process happens every five years.
Last year, an analysis by the state Department of Revenue Administration estimated that properties in town were assessed at only 85% of fair market value.
The town-wide revaluation numbers this year went from $3.9 billion to $4.5 billion, a “huge increase,” Smith said.
For example, Smith said his own Londonderry home was valued at about $354,000 before the revaluation. Now, it’s pegged at $438,000. “My home went up 23 percent in value. And my taxes went up $700,” Smith said.
“It’s sticker shock when people see it because it’s a larger increase than they’ve seen in the last five years,” Smith said. “So we’ve gotten a lot of calls and emails from people, ‘Why did my assessment go up so much? What’s the reason behind it?’”
Smith said it’s an educational process from there.
He said the upward pressure in property values is being driven by a hot real estate market in town.
The community has a low tax rate compared to neighboring communities’ tax rates, Smith said. The current tax rate is $19.39 per $1,000 of assessed value.
“The rate itself is still one of the lowest in the entire area,” Smith said.
The rate would be higher were it not for the introduction of a number of major commercial taxpayers in town that were previously insulated in a tax increment finance district, according to Smith. This year, those businesses have been integrated into the overall tax base, which takes some burden off residential homeowners.
“This was the first year where we’re feeling the full effects of the industrial base in the revaluation,” Smith said.
The only other thing that contributed to the increase in taxes is the budget, he said. The school budget makes up 73% of community spending, and 27% is from the town budget.
Smith said he is looking into possibly changing the frequency of the reassessments to every two years, so the prices don’t jump so dramatically in the future.
In the meantime, residents should not expect any major increases in their next tax bill in July, he said.