Stats: Revenues by source

This post expands upon the numbers in the first “stats post” and looks at the larger picture of municipal revenue, as defined by the Mass. Dept. of Revenue. The DOR tracks four categories of revenue sources: property tax (the total of residential, commercial, industrial, personal), state aid, local receipts (excise taxes, fees, investment income, hotel/meals tax, etc), and other (overlays, pay deferrals, deficits, etc). All of these terms are (more or less) defined here.

As you can see in the chart below showing FY10, Bolton, as expected, has a high component of property tax in its revenue mix, the highest among these comp towns in fact. Remember that the previous “stats post” suggested that Bolton is not necessarily an outlier in terms of the percentage of its overall property tax that is made up of residential property tax (we were around the middle of the other 1o towns in the chart). What the chart here says is that despite being in the middle of the comparable towns for residential, we are nonetheless the highest in terms of our reliance on all property taxes, including commercial. 

The chart below pulls out just the non-property tax portion of the revenue sources from above for a better view of how Bolton fares among these comp towns. The differences in state aid and local receipts are a large differentiator. In the category of local receipts, we are the lowest of all these towns. In both Lancaster and Stow, for instance, property taxes makes up less than 80% of their total revenues (77% and 78%, respectively). In our case, property tax represents 85% of our revenues. Would love to understand why the big difference in non-property tax revenues.


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3 Responses to Stats: Revenues by source

  1. Iris Berdrow says:

    Wow, thanks Roland. This is very informative and certainly raises questions – such as, how does Harvard get such high State Aid? Is there a way to find out?

  2. Bob says:

    Roland – Thanks for creating this “Stats” view. Very interesting data points. It is interesting to note that towns like Harvard, Boxboro, Acton, Sudbury, Southboro has such a high percentage of State Aid contributing to their total budgets. Would be interesting to find out (research) why this is so? Is this based on population (total or some demographics) or school districts or elder care facilities or conservation land. What would be interesting is to further explode what buckets (%) make up the State Aid for these towns. Very interesting and thank you for all your time and effort with this blog.


    • boltoncenter says:

      Thank you. Good idea and I’ll look into getting more detail on the state aid numbers in a post–all that info is readily available. The whole topic of state aid is a little complex, I think. Some would say that receiving state aid is something of a double-edged proposition because those towns which have historically most benefited are now suffering the most as recession-induced reductions in such aid have taken effect. But still, that’s probably not a good reason to celebrate the fact that we don’t get much from this possible source of funding in Bolton. The state aid notifications come through the infamous Cherry Sheets. Funds are distributed through formulas that take into account, according to the manuals, “equity factors such as property wealth, income, and effort.” This may explain why we get such little aid. Also, there may be special situations in play in some cases. Harvard is an example where I believe they have benefited because part of Devons is in Harvard, so they’ve received special aid for their schools and other services. But that doesn’t explain the high numbers for Boxboro. In any case, I’ll see about getting some more color and detail to this topic and post it. Thanks for the comments.

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