This is always a great question for your town manager. I often find that many people do not understand how the entire local tax process works, and everyone who owns a home (even those who rent!) Should know. Let's start with the first side of the equation, the part that most people know: Expenses. Wayland has expenses, schools, police, fire department, other services. The way the town pays for that is through taxes on real estate and private property (like your car's excise tax). Schools usually make up a HUGE percentage of the budget. OK, so what are the sources of REVENUE? Well it's more than just homes. It's also businesses. The more business in your town, the more tax revenue from those business, with an added bonus: Commercial property doesn't increase the need for more schools. So commercial property ADDS revenue, but on a per person (or per capita basis) it lowers costs. OK, so now the answer to your question: Weston and Wellesley are on RT 128, and they both have extensive commercial property that Wayland does not have on a relative basis. So they have more REVENUE per capita, and lower costs, per capita. That means the town needs to collect less money from homeowners, so the tax rate is lower. Both town are also assisted by the fact that their taxes collected per house are more, because the valuations are higher. It has the affect of showing a lower tax rate, even when they collect the same in taxes. I believe, however, that the biggest difference is the collection of commercial property taxes, and the percent of revenue that they make up. It is interesting to note that most people are "for" lower taxes, and "against" commercial development in their respective towns. A town that votes that way consistently will see its tax rate rise, or the quality of its services fall.
Hope that helps!
-- Diana Chaplin