With all six Island towns in a revaluation year for property assessments, tax rates have been slow to arrive this year.

Public tax rate classifications began last week during selectmen’s meetings. Some have since reached their conclusions, though not without considerable discussion.

In a revaluation year, assessors must provide more data to the state than in interim years, and ensure that all features of a property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a home, are up to date. State certification advisors visited all towns earlier this year and accompanied assessors as they made valuations.

“In an interim year, all you do is submit sales analysis, new growth, and [the] recap,” Tisbury assistant assessor Ann Marie Cywinski told the Gazette last week. According to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, a revaluation is a way of ensuring “full and fair cash value” of a property. Revaluations take place every third year, but the Vineyard’s last revaluation was in 2012, after the state shuffled dates so that all Island towns would be certified on the same schedule, in the same year.

Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury received final certification on property values this week — Tisbury’s preliminary certification arrived just three hours before the public hearing — and set their tax rates accordingly. West Tisbury is still awaiting preliminary certification from the state on its values and cannot hold a hearing until it comes in. Aquinnah has held a hearing and set a tax rate for fiscal year 2015, but is barred by the state from sending out third-quarter tax bills because it is facing a budget shortfall. A special town meeting will be held in early January to balance the budget.

Chilmark does not use a quarterly system for tax bills and does not follow the same classification hearing timetable as other towns. Assistant assessor Pamela Bunker said this week that she expects Chilmark’s hearing to be in February. West Tisbury’s hearing is also expected to be around that time, town assessor Dawn Barnes said. She said preliminary tax bills will be sent out based on the most recent tax rate and assessed values.

Of the four towns that have completed the valuation process, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury all saw increases in total valuation. Aquinnah’s total valuation for fiscal year 2015 is $702,215,732, a decrease of 3.5 per cent from last year. The tax rate in that town will increase to $5.18 per $1,000 of property, up from $4.69 last year.

Tisbury's total valuation increased by about $82 million this year. — Mark Lovewell

Oak Bluffs saw total property values increase from $2.52 billion to $2.55 billion. Principal assessor David Bailey said that about $15 million of that increase was because of new construction. Inflation accounts for about $13 million, he said.

Tisbury’s total valuation increased by about $82 million between this year and last. Current total valuation for the town is about $2.59 billion ($2,589,018,991). The average property valuation in town is $791,914.

In Edgartown, total valuations jumped from $6.6 billion to $7 billion.

“We are a valuable place,” selectman Arthur Smadbeck said during Monday’s tax rate hearing. Edgartown has the largest land area of the six towns: 26 square miles. Tisbury, on the other hand, has the smallest: just over six square miles.

The jump in valuation for Edgartown means that its tax rate will correspondingly fall, from $3.70 to $3.47. Oak Bluffs and Tisbury will both have increases in their rates, however, because both towns passed budget overrides last year during their annual town meetings.

In Oak Bluffs the tax rate will increase from $7.81 to $7.96.

The situation is more complex in Tisbury because the town is the only one on the Island, and just one of 14 in the entire state, that uses a residential exemption when calculating tax rates. It is also the only town on the Island to have a different tax rate for residential and commercial properties.

The residential exemptions allows year-round residents of Tisbury to subtract a given percentage off the assessed value of their property before they calculate taxes. Last year, the residential exemption was 18 per cent.

Prior to 2011, the exemption then shifted a portion of the tax burden to commercial property owners — the so-called commercial shift. In 2012, selectmen voted to get rid of the shift. During the Tisbury selectmen’s meeting this week, the board voted to keep the residential exemption at 18 per cent and to not impose a commercial shift. Tax rates for the town in FY 2015 will be $8.92 for residential properties and $8.34 for commercial properties. Last year rates were $8.39 and $7.85, respectively. Selectman Melinda Loberg said that she felt the residential exemption served a good cause, but that it should gradually diminish. She added that this year was not the time for that, given that the tax rate had already increased from the override. Selectman Tristan Israel favored increasing the exemption to 20 per cent, but ultimately supported the 18 per cent rate. Board chairman Jonathan Snyder said he felt it was unfair to tax one group of homeowners more than another, but that during the hearing process a great deal of residents had spoken in favor of the exemption. The exemption was unanimously approved. Doing away with the commercial shift was also unanimous.

“As taxpayers go, the commercial businesses are a fairly small part of our total real estate taxes, but they provide a great deal of the economic impetus in this town,” Mr. Snyder said. “They provide jobs and reasons for people to come here, and I think we need to be fairly supportive.”

There are 2,905 residential parcels and 316 commercial properties in Tisbury.

Mr. Snyder and Mrs. Loberg said that tax rate season was a reminder to all to focus not just on property values but on another tax rate contributor.

“The biggest driver of our tax rate is our budget, and we have voted for years to increase spending on many different things, all of which get paid for by real estate taxes,” Mr. Snyder said. “The first thing I would encourage everybody to do is think very carefully about how our budget [is made].”

Olivia Hull and Alex Elvin contributed reporting.