A downturn in Duxbury's real estate market has led to a decrease in home property values and an increase in the tax rate for the second straight year. A downturn in Duxbury's real estate market has led to a decrease in home property values and an increase in the tax rate for the second straight year.

At the annual tax classification hearing during the selectmen's meeting Monday night, Deputy Assessor Richard Finnegan said the assessed value of all real estate property in Duxbury for fiscal year 2008 has decreased by half a percent from FY07. In comparison, last year there was a 2.1 percent increase in assessed value and the year before there was a 9 percent increase, said Finnegan. The total assessed value of all real estate and personal property is over $3.6 billion.

"The decrease is relating to the decline in the real estate market," said Finnegan.

Finnegan said the FY08assessed value of an average single family home is $641,300, a 1.2 percent drop from FY07's value of $649,100. This is a far cry from two years ago when Finnegan said the average single-family home's assessed value increased by almost $100,000.

For the second year in a row, the Duxbury Board of Assessors has had to increase the tax rate because of the decline in property values. The proposed FY08 rate is $10.61 per one thousand dollars of assessed value. This represents a 4.6 percent increase over FY07. The town's current fiscal year began on June 30, 2007 and ends July 1, 2008.

The FY08 tax bill for that average single-family home worth $641,300 will be $6,804, a 3.4 percent increase over the last fiscal year. In comparison, in the last fiscal year, the same house valued at $649,100 had a tax bill of $6,581, a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year.

On top of that, the Community Preservation Act adds a 3 percent tax surcharge, or $204 to the average tax bill. Last year, that amount was $197.

Finnegan said the town's tax levy, the entire amount it raises through taxes, is more than $38.7 million for FY08, a 4.2 percent increase over FY07. The CPA tax will raise an additional 3 percent, or $1,162,267.

Under the law Proposition 2 1/2, the town is limited to a two-and-a-half percent increase in the overall tax levy, the total amount raised from property taxes. The provisions of Proposition 2 1/2 do not apply to an individual's tax bill.

The total amount of revenue the town will raise through taxes and non-tax sources, such as fees and excise taxes, will total a little over $59 million. This is only a 2.4 percent increase over FY07. In FY07, the increase over the previous year was 4.6 percent and in FY06, the increase was 5.7 percent.

The tax base consists of 6,039 units of real estate and 472 units of personal property.

The total assessed value of new construction and new personal property that took place during FY07 is over $58.1 million, a 21 percent increase over last year's amount of $49.4 million. This new construction translates into $589,337 of increased tax levy capacity over the basic limits of Proposition 2 1/2, meaning the town has this much more to spend on itself without asking voters for an override to raise the tax levy more than two and a half percent. The increase is partly due to the state mandated property inspection program that was funded at this year's Annual Town Meeting. The inspection program is about 45 percent complete, said Finnegan.

At the tax classification hearing, selectmen voted unanimously to "adopt a residential tax factor of 1" or to maintain a unified tax rate, taxing residential and commercial property equally. They voted against shifting more of the tax burden onto Duxbury businesses because 97% of all real estate in town is residential. Adopting a different rate for residential and commercial real estate would only save residents eighteen cents on their tax bills while increasing the commercial rate by over five dollars, from $10.61 to $15.92 per $1,000 of assessed value, said Finnegan.

Selectmen also voted to sign a form that relates to the revenues and costs associated with the town's water enterprise fund.

In other business, selectmen:

Voted to install a new stop sign on the northbound side of Fox Run at the intersection of Old Tobey Garden Street. The Highway Safety Committee recommended the stop sign and 120 residents signed a petition supporting it.

Learned that the town has chosen the architectural company Durland and VanVoorhis of New Bedford to create the plans for a restoration to the town-owned Tarkiln Community Center building on Summer Street. Annual Town Meeting approved $125,000 for these construction plans, which will be presented at the Town Meeting next March. Tarkiln consists of two one-room school houses and dates back tot 1871.

Approved two event permits: one for the Duxbury Rotary Club to use the Millennium town green on Washington Street for the annual Christmas tree lighting on November 25 and another for the Duxbury Business Association to conduct the second annual Holly Days on that same Sunday.