After a tax rate classification hearing on Tuesday, Tisbury selectmen voted not to apply a tax shift to commercial properties and to continue the 20 per cent residential tax exemption of the average residential property value. Last year the average residential property value was $784,700 allowing residents to subtract $156,940 from their property values before paying their taxes. This year the average residential value in town is $757,475 resulting in a tax exemption of $151,495.
About 10 local business owners attended the meeting, all in favor of the zero per cent shift in taxes. Prior to last March, businesses paid taxes on 130 per cent of their property values to make up for the residential tax exemption. But last spring selectmen voted to shift the town’s tax burden away from commercial property owners and increased tax rates for resident and non-resident property owners. While residents still benefited from the 20 per cent exemption, both they and non-residents were taxed at a slightly higher tax rate, from $7.72 per thousand to $8.01. “I would encourage that you maintain the tax break that was created last March so we can continue employing Islanders and keeping people here,” said Josh Goldstein of the Mansion House.
Tom Urmston, a Main street resident and trustee of the West Chop Trust, spoke on behalf of summer residents who are not eligible for the residential exemption and who he said were troubled with the increase in their tax bills.
“[I want to] let you know that we were certainly disturbed by what happened last year and was wondering if anything can be done that could benefit not only our summer community but other summer communities in town,” he said.
Selectman Jeffrey Kristal responded: “While it’s not the popular thing to do and we need to get away from it, there has been no shift from the board to remove the [exemption].”
He spoke in favor of the tax burden shifting off of the commercial class.
“I think that this was a big incentive for business in Tisbury,” said Mr. Kristal.
Assistant assessor Ann Marie Cywinski reported that the town’s overall budget went up by 2 per cent and the overall assessed values went down by 3 per cent, requiring an increased tax rate. The 2012 fiscal year tax rate for residential and non-residential properties was $8.01 and for commercial properties was $7.44. The 2013 fiscal year tax rate for residential and non-residential properties will be $8.48 per $1,000 of assessed value and commercial properties will be $7.87.
The selectmen also held public hearings for the addition of stop signs and crosswalks around town.
The first hearing proposed a crosswalk and stop signs on Skiff avenue at the intersection of Causeway Road. Department of Public works director Fred LaPiana said the proposal came after a public hearing in September regarding pedestrian and bicycle safety on Skiff avenue. About 15 residents attended that hearing and agreed that stop signs would protect a crosswalk from the north side of the street to Causeway road.
However, the proposal met with opposition on Tuesday night by a number of residents and bikers who thought the stop signs were not only unnecessary but unsafe due to restricted vision of the proposed stop signs coming downhill on Skiff avenue. Mr. LaPiana reported that the signs would be seen from 150 feet. The speed limit on the street is 30 mph, and Chief Hanavan said cars travel at 45 feet a second.
“Three seconds? That’s pretty fast,” said Eric Poehler, a resident of Cook Road. “I’m here to say I’m totally against it. Then let’s talk about gas, having to stop and start up on a hill both ways.”
Don Keller, a resident of Boxberry avenue, said having to stop and start presented a problem for bikers, too.
Ambulance coordinator Jeff Pratt worried that the stop sign would not be visible going downhill.
Mr. Kristal and selectman Jonathan Snyder sided with both of these opinions.
“I’m not in favor of the stop sign there,” said Mr. Kristal. “I find that if we send bikers up this hill, they aren’t going to stop.”
The selectmen voted to take no action on either the crosswalk or the stop signs.
The second hearing proposed stop signs on Franklin street at the intersection of Woodlawn avenue, and also proposed moving the crosswalk on Franklin street from the south side of Woodlawn to the north side and extending the sidewalk on the North side of Woodlawn avenue to Franklin street.
Several residents spoke against these stop signs, however the majority of the public favored the crosswalk and sidewalk.
The selectmen voted to take no action in regards to the stop sign, but voted for the crosswalk change and extension of the sidewalk.