Property Tax Increases Rile Seekonk Residents
Seekonk residents were surprised to see increases in their property tax bills. Some voiced their frustrations on social media.
“We need some fiscal responsibility here,” said Barbara Malloy, a Walker Street resident who voiced her concerns at the January 3 Select Board meeting.
“We have lived in our home for 18 years, have not made any major updates, and (the taxes) went up $46,000,” Malloy noted. “(The appraiser) told me ‘you live in a desirable area.”
Board member Justin Sullivan explained the different tax rates for the town and how they are calculated.
“The reason your taxes go up here in the state is attached to the value of your home (which) has gone up in the eyes of what is being sold in the market,” Sullivan said. “10 years ago, the median price of a home in Seekonk was about $250,000. Today it’s $450,000. That’s what the market would tell you.”
The state establishes a range for setting the tax rate. Sullivan said the Board set the lowest possible rate for the residential tax factor last December. A different rate is set for commercial properties.
A number of major building projects have been proposed including a new South End Fire Station and an expansion of the Seekonk Public Library. School additions or renovations may also be put before the voters. A debt exclusion, which is a temporary tax increase, would be required to fund these projects.
The town’s student population is expected to increase by a whopping 27 percent in the next 10 years.
“Seekonk is clearly a place where people want to live,” said Derek Osterman, the Director of Project Management Services for Colliers, which was hired to conducts a Conditions Assessment of all school facilities in the summer of 2022. The firm identified a total amount of $42.3 million including adjustments for inflation and additional projects.
Colliers identified $17.9 million in needs for Seekonk High School. These include roof replacement, renovation of locker rooms, upgrade of the HVAC system, refinish/replace gym floor, and cosmetic improvements. Enrollment is 533 for the current school year, but Colliers anticipates growth to 703 students for the 2032-2033 school year.
Options including reconfiguring some grades or constructing new schools. The cost of constructing a new middle school for Grades 5 through 8 would cost $146 million.
The cost of constructing a new middle school and converting Hurley into an intermediate school would cost $213.7 million.
The cost of constructing an addition to Hurley Middle School would cost $111.4 million.
Sullivan explained about the turnover in town departments, when employees leave to accept higher salaries in other communities. The town has to offer compensation which is comparable in order to retain those employees, but in a “fiscally responsible manner,” Sullivan noted.
Although the town’s finances have been strong, Seekonk is facing major challenges in the coming years, which could impact residents in several ways, Sullivan added.
“When the taxes go down and the revenues decrease, that’s when the tough decisions get made here at town hall and (by the) school department.”
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