Select Board Sets FY 21 Tax Rate at $17.85

The Select Board continued the annual Tax Classification Public Hearing at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.

Board of Assessors Chair, Lesley Kennally (below) thanked and introduced Holliston’s Principal Assessor Kathryn Peirce to present the Assessors recommendations.

Ms. Peirce shared extensive data regarding property, residential, and commercial / industrial taxable entities in Town (did you know there are 6,051?).

Principal Assessor Kathryn Peirce

The graphic below says it all.  The Town’s expenses are $51,063,020 and the total value of those 6,051 properties is almost $3 Billion.  The tax rate is derived by dividing the total expense by the total value.

To provide some context, below are the last 10 years of Holliston’s tax rate.

  • FY21             $    17.85
  • FY20             $    18.85
  • FY19             $    18.83
  • FY18             $    18.67
  • FY17             $    18.52
  • FY16             $    18.79
  • FY15             $    19.38
  • FY14             $    19.88
  • FY13             $    18.62
  • FY12             $    18.32
  • FY11             $    17.94

Real estate sales drive the assessed values.  Below are some data from 2019 that drove the FY 21 tax numbers.

Following Ms. Peirce’s presentation, the Board asked some questions that were fielded by Peirce, and Assessors Kennally and Barbieri.  It is important to remember while the tax rate went down, housing values went up which MAY not result in a lower tax bill.

The Board voted to approve the FY 21 tax rate of $17.85.

The Board went on to disapprove the following:

  • The open space exemption
  • The shift of tax rate to commercial / industrial
  • The residential exemption (not personal exemptions that some citizens qualify for)
  • The small commercial exemption

The Board approved the Excess Levy Capacity of $555, 979 (“unused levy capacity” meaning that the Tax Levy is lower than the Levy Limit which is set by Proposition 2 ½)

The Board closed the Public Hearing at 7:16 pm and the meeting was adjourned at 7:17pm.

Chris Cain


  1. Christina Hein on December 9, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    The Select Board had the relatively light lift of approving the tax rate last night. The hard work was done by the Board of Assessors, Town Assessor and Town Administrator, who set the wheels in motion for a tax rate reduction weeks earlier with his preparation of the Town Meeting warrant.

    The pandemic forced a very tight window for the 1-2-3 of Town Meeting, Board of Assessors report and Select Board vote. Travis Ahern guided the whole process with great success!

    Tina Hein
    Vice Chair, Select Board

  2. Daniel Alfred on December 10, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    It is frustrating that Ms. Hein would purposefully choose to leave out the Finance Committee’s role in helping drive the reduction in the tax rate this year. First, it is important to recognize that the main reason for the decline was the payoff of the debt for the Placentino and Miller School projects. That reduction was automatic since the loan was fully paid. However, the reduction was boosted by my recommendation at the September 22nd Fincom meeting (which Ms. Hein attended) to use the release in overlay funds to offset some of the allowed tax increase under Prop 2.5. While the Fincom does not have an official role in setting the tax rate, we have provided fiscally prudent recommendations to Town Meeting over the years that have put Holliston in a position where such an action could be considered during a pandemic. While implementation of my suggestion took the input and agreement of many parties, including all those listed by Ms. Hein, and most importantly Town Meeting, to leave the Fincom out of the conversation is just another example of this Select Board’s refusal to acknowledge our role in guiding the finances of this town.

    Daniel Alfred
    Finance Committee – Vice Chairman

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