Residential taxpayers have taken on more of city’s tax burden, assessor says

  • Example homes from a presentation created by the City of Concord's assessing department. Courtesy—Concord Assessing Department

  • Example homes from a presentation created by the City of Concord's assessing department. Courtesy—Concord Assessing Department

  • Example homes from a presentation created by the City of Concord's assessing department. Courtesy—Concord Assessing Department

Monitor staff
Published: 12/18/2021 1:29:21 PM
Modified: 12/18/2021 1:29:07 PM

Rising home values, a falling share of tax revenue funded by businesses and a growing budget all contributed to the increases many homeowners are seeing in their most recent property tax bills.

Concord Director of Real Estate Assessments Kathryn Temchack explained to the Concord City Council on Monday that one market trend in particular has contributed to the rising tax burden on homeowners: commercial property values are not growing as quickly as residential values.

“Even though property values for commercial and industrial have been going up in total, they’re not rising at the same level as residential properties,” Temchack said. “We’re not seeing double digit increases in overall value for commercial and industrial properties. We have been seeing that for the past couple of years with residential properties.”

Vacancy rates have remained stable for industrial and commercial buildings while rents for office buildings have declined over the past 18 months, meaning that those buildings’ market values have stayed the same or decreased slightly, Temchack said. Meanwhile, the residential real estate market has seen high demand and low supply since 2020.

Residential property has come to take up an increasing share of the city’s tax base, with the residential share of taxable value increasing from 57.7% in 2018 to 61.9% in 2021. At the same time, the percentage of value that commercial and industrial properties make up has fallen from 37.5% in 2018 to 32.9% in 2021. 

The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration calculates tax rates for municipalities using the total value of assessed property divided by expenses. The total rate is made up of city, school, county and state taxes.

After the Monitor requested median assessments for single family homes over the past 10 years in order to show how Concord taxpayers’ bills have grown, the Assessing Department calculated average assessments for single family homes each year going back to 2004. Those average assessments have increased 45% since 2011, from $223,600 ten years ago to $324,005 this year.

That increase hasn’t been a steady one, with average assessments dipping between 2011 and 2014. But the rise in average assessed value in the last year has shot up 24% from the 2020 average.

Even though tax rates have remained relatively flat, residents might see their property tax bills go up if assessments are higher.

Each year, the city assessing department appraises Concord’s properties at market value. “We don’t set the market, we analyze the market and set values based on what’s happening in the market,” Temchack said.

One slide of her presentation sought to answer a commonly asked question: “is there a ‘windfall’ for the city” when property taxes go up? The short answer is no, since the tax rate is calculated based on adopted budgets.

Over the past five fiscal years, the city’s budget has increased on average by 2.31% each year, up a total of about $9.1 million since 2017. This year’s budget went up by 2.5%, an increase of $3.1 million over the previous year’s spending. 

In Monday’s meeting, Mayor Jim Bouley said that the council made thoughtful budgeting decisions that ensured Concord citizens were not taxed out of their homes.

“I think we have been, to pat ourselves on the back, very, very prudent and fiscally responsible when it comes to budgeting,” Bouley said. “So given the fact that we’re not increasing the budget a whole lot, [I get asked], why am I getting such a large increase in my taxes, and when I talk to them I say, because the commercial side is paying less, somebody else is gonna pick that up.”

Concord’s budget grew this year in part because of higher costs for employees’ salaries and benefits, as well as required contributions to the state retirement system.

The council voted on Monday to change labor grades for two positions, allocating money to give raises to the city’s Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation and Cemetery Administrator. The council also voted to appropriate funds to add two new positions, one in the Fire Department and another in Information Technology.

Property owners can appeal assessments if they can show that the assessment is unfair, incorrect or not representative of April 2021 market value. The deadline to appeal a 2021 assessment is March 1, 2022.


Cassidy Jensen bio photo

Cassidy Jensen has been a reporter at the Monitor, covering the city of Concord and criminal justice, since July 2021. Previously, she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, where she earned a master's degree. Her work has been published in Documented, THE CITY, Washington City Paper and Street Sense Media. When she's not at City Council meetings, you can find her hiking in the White Mountains.



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