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Monday, October 16, 2006

Lower property taxes? Sorry, but no.

WATERTOWN

So your house is probably worth less because the real estate marketing is softening. Hey, at least your property taxes will go down, too. Right?

"The short answer is no," Daniel Loughlin, who chairs the assessors, told the Watertown Town Council last week. Loughlin noted that the market decline was primarily hitting communities with a large number of homes priced above $1 million.

In addition, he pointed out, his office establishes property values a year before homeowners receive their tax bill. For 2006, homes were assessed based on 2005 sales data, a banner year for real estate prices, he said.

Also, since most of the town's budget comes from property tax, the town would have to cut services and staffing if leaders opted to keep taxes below the maximum allowed under Proposition 2 1/2 tax cap.

Many councilors expressed frustration, saying they've been inundated with calls from residents complaining about their rising tax bills.

-- Christina Pazzanese

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