WESTBOROUGH – Local taxpayers took a big hit in fiscal 2018 with the loss of biopharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca, with the average single-family homeowner seeing a $350 property tax increase, according to Town Manager James Malloy.
“But if AstraZeneca had been here, it would have only gone up $105,” said Malloy. ”(The closing) had a significant impact on the town.”
Water and sewer rates also increased by 4 to 5 percent because of the loss of AstraZeneca, the largest water-and-sewer user in town, Malloy said.
Meanwhile, the property at 50 Otis St. is still being marketed to potential tenants, Malloy reported.
AstraZeneca, an England-based biopharmaceutical company, closed its Westborough manufacturing plant at the end of 2016. The closing cost more than 100 employees their jobs. AstraZeneca at one time employed more than 800.
It was the town’s largest taxpayer, stemming from a merger of Astra AB of London and Zeneca Group PLC of Sweden in 1999.
Astra previously registered its Westborough location as a manufacturing company, which exempted its equipment and inventory from local property taxes. But AstraZeneca became a limited partnership corporation after the merger, subjecting its local equipment and inventory to property taxation. In 1999, Astra paid $2,661 in personal property taxes in Westborough. In 2000, the company paid $1 million in personal property taxes, despite having roughly the same operation.
At its peak in fiscal 2007, AstraZeneca had $334 million in personal property value, which led to an approximately $4.5 million tax bill, said Jon Steinberg, chief assessor.
In fiscal 2017, AstraZeneca paid $1.88 million in taxes on $106 million in personal property value.
Atlantic Management Corp., located at 205 Newbury St. in Framingham, purchased the 66-acre property in December.
The town has continued to receive property taxes for the company’s buildings and land, which are valued at approximately $14 million, according to assessor’s records.
Malloy said that he didn’t think the town’s ability to tax personal property was a factor in the decision for the business to leave, noting that the same tax structure had existed for almost 20 years and was the same at all of the company’s locations.
He said that there are no new submitted plans for the site, but he remains optimistic that a new tenant will come along.
“It’s a very large property, and Atlantic Management is a first-rate company,” Malloy said. “So I have faith that they’ll find that right tenant, and hope that someone will move in.”