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Friday, February 17, 2012

Taxing YMCA land tax math

At the February 13 hearing on the YMCA land purchase, the Land Trust attorney stated that the one-time cost for the owner of $200,000 home would be $20.

That sounds good but, on reflection, I had some doubts about the accuracy of that.

Paul Singer is the attorney for the Charlestown Land Trust. Mr Singer's statement, which you can listen to here, is:

As to the cost, I might point out that the cost is roughly a little bit more than two cents per $1,000 of appraised value. So for a typical house that has a value of $200,000 the tax cost to that would be $20, one time, one year.

Mr. Singer was not referring to notes but his numbers were very specific and he put a lot of emphasis on the "one time, one year".

Later in the hearing, Pat Anderson, town Treasurer, was asked to explain the cost to the town. You can listen to her explanation here. She explained that the annual cost for principal and interest for the $475,000 payment by the town is estimated to be $45,000 per year, or about one and three quarters cents per $1,000 valuation for 20 years.

I wasn't sure what I had heard Mr. Singer say but, at that point, I made a mental note to check these numbers later. This is that report.

The first thing I realized is that Mr. Singer's math is wrong. The added cost for 2 cents per $1,000 on the $200,000 house would be $4, not $20. That sounds even better! But there still remains the disagreement of the number of years between the two explanations.

You would expect the town Treasurer to have her numbers straight and my estimate comes out just about the same as hers. The annual tax increase for a $200,000 house will be about $4 and that will last 20 years. So the total bill over those 20 years will be $80. My computation shows that paying off the entire $475,000 in one year would result in a one-time tax bill of $42 from a tax increase of 21 cents per $1,000.

So I'll grant Mr. Singer an "oops". That's happened to me on more than one occasion, even when I wasn't as (ah-hem) old. The actual one-time cost is about double what he quoted. Not a big deal, perhaps, but I thought I should write this up after I figured out the mistake.

The good news from this is that one of those non-resident property owners with a $2 million house will be paying ten times as much - $40 per year or $800 over the 20 year bond term. During a beautiful winter like this one I'll be able to go strolling there a lot while they won't even be in the state. I'll have to remember to send a thank-you note.