Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

November 21, 2013

Tax bills set to climb

New split rate will mean hikes across town

(Continued)

Under a slightly different plan, using a shift of 148, taxpayers town-wide would see more level increases across the board, according to Billard.

For residents, the average bill would jump 4.4 percent, from $7,967 to $8,321 — or about $354. Commercial taxpayers would pay 4.3 percent more year to year, on average running from $48,291 to $50,349. Meanwhile, industrial taxpayers would pay 6.6 percent more, from $84,565 to $90,181 on average.

The board also looked at using a 146 percentage, which would give residents and industry near-equal tax bill increases of 5 and 5.2 percent respectively. Commercial taxpayers would see a 2.8 percent jump in the bill under that shift.

No matter what happens, Andover homeowners will continue paying the highest taxes in the Merrimack Valley.

In Methuen, the average annual tax bill for single-family homeowners is about $3,666 — less than half of what Andover pays. Haverhill homeowners are set to pay about $3,951 a year in property taxes. In North Andover, homeowners pay about $5,830 a year.

Joe Bevilacqua, president of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, urged Andover selectmen to consider lowering the tax burden for the local business community.

“Drive through any community, you’ll see abandoned storefronts, abandoned industrial buildings. It’s a sign of the times,” Bevilacqua said. “But setting the tax rate is where you can make a positive impact.”

Meanwhile, several residents who are regular attendees at selectmen’s meetings argued in favor of adopting the 148 shift, making sure the growing tax burden is felt equally throughout town.

“Commercial depends on the residents for their businesses. Residents shop downtown,” Cyr Circle resident Mary Carbone said. “Without the residents, there would be no business. People make business act.”

While saying he too supported the 148 shift, Whittier Street resident John Pasquale said he wasn’t concerned what was going on in the commercial and industrial sector when it’s a residential tax bill that comes in the mail.

“When I get my tax bill in front of me and I’m going down to pay in advance, I’m not interested in what commercial is doing or what industrial is doing,” he said. “They’re not next to me. I’m interested in what my wallet is doing.”

Not all communities use a split rate. Newburyport and Amesbury, for example, charge business and residential property owners at the same tax rate.

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