Letter: It’s already time to reassess the residential tax exemption 

December 15, 2023

During its November 20 meeting, the Select Board confirmed it began planning its tax shift in October 2022, three months before January’s Town Meeting approved the new Concord Middle School. Nevertheless, the Select Board allowed voting to proceed under the false premise that all residents would pay for the school by a uniform 5% tax increase. Had voters known the truth about how CMS would be paid for, many may have likely changed their vote. 

The Select Board justified its tax shift based on repeated assertions that certain residents would be forced to leave town over the cost of the new CMS, which now appears hollow. A Concord Greene condo owner, for example, would have paid an additional $225, or 3.5%, in 2024 taxes without the exemption. In comparison, without the exemption, a home assessed at $2.5 million would have paid an additional $4,000, or 15%, in 2024 taxes, roughly 18 times more taxes than the condo owner. One Select Board member, as well as numerous residents who vocally supported the RTE, reside at Concord Greene. 

Further, the RTE provides the condo owner with a $1,200 or 25% tax reduction in 2024 funded by those with homes assessed over the average $1.5 million assessment. Such a reduction should be need-based. Should a Concord resident who downsized in town and purchased a second home on the Cape receive a tax reduction? Should a house-rich, 30-year resident on a fixed income bear a 25% tax increase? The RTE sets bad policy – many voters will likely approve future incremental spending, the majority of which they won’t pay for.  

In response to concerns the RTE would drive up rents in town, the Select Board calculated the RTE could increase 2024 rents at the Prescott and Warner Woods by $42 per year. But later, following audience questions, the assessor confirmed the impact would be $600, or 15 times the Select Board’s estimate, which increase the Select Board then dismissed as “immaterial.” Despite its error and misunderstanding, the Select Board charged ahead unanimously without pause or further analysis. 

There is universal support in Concord to provide tax relief for those residents who need it. The meeting highlighted the confusion and lack of understanding around the RTE. 

Massachusetts towns have repealed RTEs due to their divisive and unintended effects. Please urge the Select Board to follow through to create promptly a task force to assess the merits and consequences of its RTE for next year. 

Mark Martines 

Alford Circle