About those record high Boston property-tax bills some of you just got

A rising tide raises all property taxes, well, half of them, anyway: Boston Magazine reports a townhouse on Holyoke Street in the South End just went for $6.6 million - a record for the neighborhood and way, way more than it sold for in 2012. BoMag quotes one of the real-estate agents involved as being quite satisfied with himself, not just for making a boatload of money but for helping to preserve the South End's rep as one of the "most culturally diverse neighborhoods" in the city.

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Anyone else?

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My property tax in Arlington went way up.

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Arlington Property Taxes

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Arlington has long had very high residential property taxes, which are the result of very few commercial tax payers in town.

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cool story, but...

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Arlington property tax rate in 2018 was $12.13. Nowhere near the highest in the state.

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Someone has to pay

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Someone has to pay that $90 million to keep those school buses rolling in order to maintain racial balance in a 94% minority school system. If we don’t pay these taxes, how will we ever keep this make-work project of school busing afloat?

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If you don't really know about a topic ...

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We no longer have racially-based busing in Boston, haven't for a long time.

Part of the busing budget (which is now closer to $120 million) goes for kids who aren't even in BPS schools - the city is required to provide busing for charter, private and even parochial schools - and charters, at least, by law, are open to students from across the city. Another part of the money goes for kids going to and from specialized programs - not every Boston school has the sort of special-education and other programs that some kids need.

If you subtract the costs of all the busing services the state and federal government require Boston to provide, you're left with $37 million attributed to decisions made specifically by BPS (source). Still a fair amount of money, but a drop in the bucket in an overall BPS budget of more than $1.1 billion.

Yes, part of the reason for busing is to give parents and their students a choice because, sadly, not all BPS schools are as good as others. BPS and Menino tried for years to come up with a cheaper busing plan but always failed because no matter how they drew zone lines, they always wound up with at least one zone in which all the schools were rated as underperforming. Some bright team at MIT finally came up with the current system: For the school lottery, parents get a list of nearby schools, but at least one higher ranking school, even if it was more than a mile from their home.

Yes, yes, all Boston schools should be good, but until we get to the point where that's true, it's unfair to parents to force them to send their kids to schools they might not want to simply because of where they live.

As a Boston taxpayer, I can support this

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Dude , in direct terms ,

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Dude , in direct terms , busing from its inception, flucked up the educational system. A hiddeen dividend is that school buses are transportation and thus a service, It is discriminatory to provide it for some . No matter how much fancy talk and idealism you spout, it didnt work, and it hurt a lot of people.

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Bro, in direct terms

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The racist system in place (not just separate schools, but even reduced funding for schools in minority neighborhoods) before busing fucked up a lot of people as well. The people in those neighborhoods tried working with the (elected) school committee, and it was only when the racists on the committee told them to screw off that they went to court.

I will grant you that the busing scheme ordered by a federal judge was screwed up, because, unlike in other cities, he refused to include nearby suburbs in his answer to the problems of segregated schools.

Be that as it may, today's BPS busing system has nothing to do with 1974. As others have noted, BPS has relatively few white students. Busing today is more about giving kids an alternative to the schools in their immediate neighborhoods. And as also noted, the city has to pay for busing around kids who aren't even in BPS.

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Busing today is more about

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Busing today is more about giving kids an alternative to the schools in their immediate neighborhoods.

Before the wizardry of social engineering, kids walked to schools in their immediate neighborhood. It was not uncommon for a whole family of children to have the same schools, and even the same teachers .If there was any talent and money, kids went to parochial schools , or maybe Latin or Tech , on their own dime for the bus. So what i see is that the educational system is diluted, and a lack of common sense in logistics , and a whole bunch of excuses.

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It’s time for Boston to come

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It’s time for Boston to come into the main stream with the rest of America, where kids go to schools in the neighborhoods they grew up in. In areas where the schools are near the students’ homes, they walk to school, saving millions in taxes and keeping neighborhoods together.

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1. As Adam pointed out, not

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1. As Adam pointed out, not all neighborhood schools are equal. Hence the attraction of specialized schools

2. Going to the closest school actually *isn’t the way all the country works. Certainly isn’t the way cities work. See (1)

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Schools aren't equal?

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Let's vote the school committee out during the next election.

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I knew my neighbors in NYC

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I knew my neighbors in NYC because our children walked to local schools. We had community, and the political power that goes with it. State assembly men and city Councilors would come to community meetings, they had to. No monied interests or politicos want the actual residents of Boston to have a say in what happens, bussing took that away decades ago.

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Seriously?

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You think New York City is an example of government through community? And because elected officials showed up at community meetings? City councilors and state reps show up at community meetings in Boston all the time. You might want to attend some if you don't believe me.

Somehow, amazingly, we got to know our neighbors even when we didn't have a kid.

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Here's what's going to help

Changing the assignment system for the exam schools.

New York is in the midst of changing their system for assigning middle schoolers to their exam schools through the SHSAT. Di Blasio is planning to abolish that test entirely, and extend admission to the top 7 percent at each middle school (as judged by tests and grades). In addition, 5-10 percent of seats will be offered to students coming from private schools, by lottery.

https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/06/04/a-chalkbeat-cheat-sheet-th...

For next fall, they're starting by setting aside 1/5 of the seats in their specialized high schools to be assigned to low-income students at high-poverty schools.

If this plan passes (the NY State Assembly has to approve it, oddly), the desirability of high-poverty schools in NYC will go up. People will move to get their kids into schools that offer them a better chance at Stuyvesant et. al. The quality of middle schools will even out, and residential segregation will lessen.

Boston could do the same.

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So keeping people permanently

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So keeping people permanently un-educated if they miss the window, for example due to not living here until that age, accomplishes what exactly?

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As a Boston taxpayer

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I would like to know why on earth we provide busing to private/parochial school students. If you choose not to use the public school for whatever reason, why on earth should tax dollars be used to get you to your school of choice?

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Simple, you're busing students

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The type of school at the destination is irrelevant.

Of course, we talk to our local parochial school, which is saving the taxpayer both the cost of transportation and the cost of educating our child. I'll assume you will be thanking me for saving you both costs. But if you look at the overall costs of the BPS, you'll see that the cost of teaching kids is much higher than the cost of bringing them to school.

I can remember when the Archdiocese was closing schools, specifically Our Lady of the Presentation in Brighton. The mayor and City Council were pissed that the cost of teaching more kids was going to be inflicted on the City.

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You didn't actually explain anything

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Why are we paying for this?

Also, why is there nothing about it on BPS's website or anywhere else? I was curious whether they'll provide transportation to any type of private school, or if it's only certain ones. Shouldn't this questionable practice be transparently explained on their website?

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Sorry

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It's because there's a state law that requires that a municipality provide transportation to any pupil who lives more than a mile from their school, regardless of what kind of school it is. There is a condition whereby private school students have to go to school within the municipality. I'm certain if you attend a regional voke (or aggie) school, you get the transportation, too.

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You misquoted DeAngelo

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He said that the South End is one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods (whatever that means) in the city, not that they were helping in the process. With homes selling for that scratch, I think we can assume that diversity is waning. Of course, since the previous sale for the property was north of $2 million, I don’t see the socioeconomic balance change by much.

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Please,

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Quincy, where I absconded from over-priced Boston, Brookline, Cambridge-Somerville, is the epitome of healthy, diverse socio-economics. The South End is not diverse; it has people well off socio-economically, 'poor' living overwhelmingly in public housing, and homeless living in shelters and on the streets.

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High tax bills

See what happens when you use your free time to troll government into protecting your shelter profiteering investment through zoning laws, and you vote Democrat? You get a giant tax bill stuck to you.

No sympathy. Not one bit.

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Bad at math I see

That's very on brand for a libertarian.

6% increase isn't a giant tax increase - it's a moderate one which is nowhere near the actual increase in property value. But you do you.

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Good at math

640 on my SAT's in 2001.

Did you get a 6% raise this year? The property is worth $0 if it's not for sale, because you're a mammal, and you require shelter in this climate.

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Real Estate Tax math is odd, though

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The point being that whatever came before the 6% increase and what will most likely come next year will probably soften the blow.

Massachusetts municipalities are constrained with property tax. Strange thing happen within the constraints. Tax rates can go down because the value of properties go up. Some sections of Boston can be hit harder than others, and commercial and residential tag each other. The main number is 2.5% a year. That means that someone's 6% is another person's 0%, or someone's 6% might be after a few relatively flat years. There's still more stability than there was in the 1970s, and hearing from friends in suburban Cook County, IL, 6% might seem like a bargain to people in the rest of the country.

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Illinois

Boy, there's a place that's just straight up allergic to not sucking.

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How much do you think real estate tax is?

My current bill went up @ $200. That is less than the amount our income went up this last year, yes.

My property is worth more than $0 when it's not for sale because it means I don't have to pay for shelter from a different provider like a landlord or hotel.

Again, bad at math or perhaps understanding civic life and society. Again, like all libertarians.

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Show us a state that votes

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Show us a state that votes republican that isn't an uneducated, poor, obese hell hole. I'll continue to vote democrat and live with the consequences which is being in the most educated state with super high wages.

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Facts

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8 out of the top 10 states for ranked high for education are governed by republicans.

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Facts?

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I'm willing to see this corroborated. Could you provide a link or links to data to back up your claim?

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Fun fact

I think Republicans are trash. Of course, the issues discussed on UH are set in a community which overwhelmingly votes Democrat, so I have little opportunity around here to openly trash Republicans.

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Ever heard of Utah?

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Interestingly, a lot of people are moving from deep blue California to red states like Utah, Arizona, and Idaho.

Meanwhile, Texas, the second most populous state, just re-elected Ted Cruz.

But feel free to keep on being smug. It helps reinforce the stereotypes the interior has about the coasts.

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Utah is a funny toss-up

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Good education. But, fat. GDP per capita is below average. Hell hole? It's not my cup of tea, but to each his and her and her own.

Side note: SLC is Democrat. It's the burbs that are Republican, and Southern Utah that is crazypants.

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hard to judge utah by the

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hard to judge utah by the standards of other red states since it's not really a conservative state... it's a theocracy, where the religion just aligns better with republicans than democrats.

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Wisconsin

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I recently relocated from Boston to Southern Wisconsin and people are way nicer. Yeah, there's lots of pickup trucks and guns, but walk down the street and people are friendly and decent. I was back in Boston for the holidays and everyone is such a miserable asshole (and just as fat). People in the Northeast need to get over themselves.

Oh, and the cost of living is like half of what it was in Boston.

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Yeah, there's lots of pickup

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Yeah, there's lots of pickup trucks and guns, but walk down the street and people are friendly and decent.

well, are you white?

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One thing you're forgetting

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Property taxes in the aggregate in Massachusetts are kind of a zero-sum game.

Prop. 2 1/2 limits how much, in total, the city can increase its total tax revenues each year. It gets a bit complicated in a growing city like Boston, with lots of new development, but basically, the city can't collect more in property taxes than what it collected last year from existing houses and buildings, plus 2.5% more (for the purposes of this discussion, we'll ignore the extra revenue that comes in due to previously untaxed new developments, except to note that if the economy grinds to a halt and development dries up and we suddenly lose all that new revenue, oh, are we screwed).

So what that means is that if your taxes are going up 6% this year, somebody else's taxes are going down 6% this year (more or less, given that overall 2.5% increase the city's allowed). But we're just not seeing people who are seeing tax decreases crowing about it (would you, when everybody's complaining about their increases?). Sooner or later, somebody will write about this, though.

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20.8% Tax Increase

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Triple Decker In North Dorchester (St. William's Parish):
The tax bill increased 20.8%
valuation increased 15%
residential exemption increased 6.5%
taxable valuation increased 20%
The tenants will be paying $900 more this year just to cover the tax increase. This doesn't help to keep rents low.

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The tax rate barely changed

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The tax rate barely changed between 2018 and 2019. If the tax bill went up 20.8%, then it's simply because your property's appreciation beat the norm by 15 - 6.5 = 8.5%. Congratulations that your property gained so much value.

Someone good at algebra could derive your property value given the $2,719.09 amount of the residential exemption.

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Whoa...

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A $25 a month rent increase? Nooooooo

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900 / 12 = 75

Even if it were a $25 a month rent increase, did you get a raise this year? Wages in real dollars haven't increased significantly, and they certainly haven't kept up with housing costs.

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900 / 12 / 3 = 75

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The post did say "triple decker".

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I Know I'm in the Minority Here...

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But I think Boston grossly undertaxes its citizens. Our property tax bill is going up quite a bit this year because we did some work to bring our finished basement up to code and now the City is counting that space in our livable square footage whereas they didn't before. That only seems fair to me. We still have a property tax bill that is literally 1/10th of what my brother-in-law pays in Westchester County. Add to that the fact that we don't have a city income tax (and we don't pay a fee for parking permits!) and I feel like Bostonians actually get off pretty easy. I would happily pay more to allow our city to do more in areas like improving infrastructure and providing affordable housing.

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Then do it

The MA DoR accepts voluntary contributions.

Also, if you think giving a municipal government money will lead to them providing affordable housing, you need your head examined.

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