Select Board Sets Tax Classification Rate

Tax Classification

Reading, MA — By a vote of 5-0, the Select Board opted to retain the 1.02 tax classification shift rate for residential versus commercial properties for Fiscal Year 2022. Chief Appraiser Victor Santaniello explained that this would create a tax rate of $13.33 per thousand for residential properties and $13.55 per thousand for commercial properties. Santaniello also noted that the $2,784,926 of the town’s debt exclusion adds $.45 per thousand to the tax rate. Local business owner John Means gave the opinion that retaining the classification shift as it is would be preferable to the business community. 

Chief Appraiser Victor Santaniello

“[Setting the current classification rate] was the right call [last year], and it remains the right call,” Means emphasized.

Santaniello continued to share that the average residential value for Reading is $702,600 and that this translates to an average tax bill of $9,366. While contemplating an increase in the shift of rates between residential and commercial properties, members of the board agreed that this action should wait until the economic effects of the pandemic have subsided. “We need to emphasize stability,” Select Board chair Karen Herrick suggested. “It’s not the right time [to change things],” Select Board member Christopher Haley agreed.

Center for Active Learning Committee

The board also voted 4-0 to establish an ad hoc Reading Center for Active Learning Committee (RECALC). This committee will comprise seven members, one from the Select Board, one from the Council on Aging, one from the Recreation Committee, and four residents at-large. The committee will be tasked with exploring the options for a new senior/community center in town and making recommendations to the Select Board regarding the next steps.

Resident Alicia Williams questioned why this had arisen as a priority when a potential Killam Elementary School project was on the horizon. Select Board member Mark Dockser shared his opinion that the two projects are not competing with one another. The pandemic highlighted concerns regarding isolation and other social and emotional issues amongst elder populations in town.


The Select Board agreed, with a 5-0 vote, to try to move to mediation with resident Walt Tuvell regarding nine open meeting law complaints he has filed against the board. Tuvell has requested that the meetings be in-person and be recorded. This request came after a board vote to hold the mediations in executive session, as is commonly done in such matters, according to Town Counsel Ivria Fried.

Town Counsel Ivria Fried

Board members considered Tuvall’s requests but decided to adhere to its previous vote. “We voted for executive session; we should use the protocols of executive session,” Haley affirmed. Dockser agreed, “The complaint is about following process, yet [Tuvell’s] requests are out of process.” If mediation cannot occur, or if it is unfruitful, then the Attorney General will make a ruling regarding the complaints.

Animal Control

The Board also voted 4-0 to accept two inter-municipal agreements with Wakefield, one for Animal Control and sharing assessor services. It voted 5-0 to accept the Town Manager’s goals, and acknowledging the votes of Town Meeting, voted 5-0 not to exercise its right of first refusal for five lots of land on Grove Street, but instead, by a 5-0 vote, to accept an offer from Bancroft Estates to purchase one of the lots. It is planned to use the lot for Town Forest parking.

Police Department

The board also welcomed Krystal Mellonakos-Garay to the Reading Coalition for Prevention and Support and the promotion of Police Sergeant Patrick Silva to the role of civil rights officer for the police department.

The Select Board adjourned at 9:40 pm.

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