Since 1984, the City of Worcester has set residents against businesses in an annual duel over property tax rates. As municipal budgets continue to grow, a zero-sum game exists in which a decrease in taxes on one property class necessitates an increase in taxes on another. Over the last three decades, commercial, industrial, and personal property (CIP) taxpayers have subsidized Worcester’s residents by more than $650 million.
The Research Bureau looked closely at the impact of tax classification on properties in Worcester and throughout Massachusetts. We found noticeable correlation between extreme tax rate shifts and a change in property valuations, especially on commercial and industrial properties. Taxes – and tax rates – matter to Worcester’s long-term sustainability and growth.
The City Council can and must change its approach. Whether through the long-term establishment of a single tax rate – an effort currently underway in Auburn – or the short-term implementation of reduced taxes on vulnerable industrial properties, the City Council must act strategically to minimize annual tax rate increases and preserve the businesses and jobs that provide our residents their livelihoods.