WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

AGAWAM — Both residents and businesses will see an increase in their taxes, even though the City Council approved lower tax rates for both.

During a public hearing on Dec. 4, Assessor Caroline Reed said that the tax levy for fiscal year 2024 was $73.05 million, a 4% increase over last year. The tax levy is the amount in taxes the town must raise, based on the budget councilors passed in the summer. The general operating budget and capital improvements budget increased both by 5%, leading to an increase in the amount of taxes the town needs. This year’s levy is offset by $3.5 million of free cash.

Mayor William Sapelli’s proposed shift factor was 1.59. This would make the residential tax rate $14.54 per $1,000 of assessed value, a reduction of $1.24 from last year’s rate of $15.78; and the commercial-industrial rate $27.54, a reduction of $2.65 from last year’s rate of $30.19.

The average single-family home, valued at $335,714 this year, will see an annual tax bill of $4,881, an increase of $65 per quarter compared to last fiscal year, when assessed values were lower and rates were higher.

Both commercial and industrial properties increased in value, as well. Those under $500,000 in value increased 18%, while those above $500,000 increased 14%.

Reed emphasized that Agawam has some of the lowest tax rates in the area. Both residential and commercial markets are growing in Agawam, she said. Sapelli said his proposed shift factor gives Agawam the lowest residential tax rate although it is offset by the assessed value of the houses.

“The fact that we have such a community that’s appealing to people … people want to move to Agawam so the value of the property moves up, the old supply and demand issue,” he said.

Resident Corinne Wingard spoke in favor of the proposed tax rates. She spoke about the town’s tax abatement programs for seniors, veterans and blind people, and encouraged people to go to the assessor’s page on the town website. She said that for people on fixed incomes, taxes can be a real burden.

“I’m happy to pay for my taxes to be a little bit more so theirs can perhaps be a little bit less,” she said.

Councilor George Bitzas asked why the factor couldn’t be 1.60, which would decrease taxes for residents and increase commercial-industrial taxes, relative to the mayor’s proposal. Sapelli said that would hurt businesses.

“We can’t always push our taxes towards the commercial-industrial,” he said. “If we start pushing that and opening our divide, we are going to lose some of our businesses and industry.”

Councilor Dino Mercadante expanded upon the mayor’s point, saying businesses don’t use town services and all the taxes they pay go into the general fund.

“No one loves raising taxes,” said Council President Christopher Johnson. “I think the proposed factor the mayor selected is the best balance that’s available to us but the only way we can not raise taxes is to not raise the budget.”

The council voted 10-0 in favor of the proposed factor. Councilor Anthony Suffriti was absent.

tlederer@thereminder.com | + posts