Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 27, 2012

Homeowner taxes up $181

Commercial, industrial bills also on the rise

By Dustin Luca
Staff Writer

---- — Taxes are going up for all Andover taxpayers, with the average homeowner’s bill increasing by $181.

The Board of Selectmen voted last week to adopt a 147.5 tax classification shift, which measures how much more commercial and industrial taxpayers pay in taxes than residential taxpayers.

Under the shift, residents will pay $14.51 for every $1,000 in their property’s value. Commercial and industrial taxpayers will pay $24.26.

The average commercial tax bill is expected to rise by $1,149, to $48,291, according to town officials. The average industrial tax bill will increase $1,836, to $84,565.

With the average residential property value in town at $549,056, the average residential bill will be $7,967.

Joseph Bevilacqua, president of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, asked the board to reduce the tax burden for businesses.

“Any additional costs in this era of unpredictability is going to have an impact on businesses,” Bevilacqua said. “That has a multiplier effect, because they may not hire additional people. They may not expand their business. They may not bring in new equipment or renovations.”

Cherrywood Circle resident Bob Pokress argued for lowering the residential tax obligation.

“Taxpayers are still under tremendous financial pressure as a result of the financial collapse from four years ago and the big recession that hit homeowners very hard,” Pokress said.

Whittier Street resident John Pasquale, however, said that after listening to the discussion every year for nearly a decade, “nobody’s going to win in this. I don’t want to see my taxes going up, and neither do the businesses.”

The vote for a 147.5 differential came after the board voted against adopting a tax classification shift of 147, which Chief Assessor David Ballard said would result in the most uniform tax increase across the board.

Under the shift, residents would have paid 2.5 percent more than last year, while commercial taxpayers would have paid 2.1 percent more and industrial taxpayers would have paid 1.9 percent.

After seconding a motion to adopt a shift of 147, Selectman Brian Major said he supported the 147 shift because it kept the increase level for all taxpayers.

“It ensures that we’re listening, we do understand that taxpayers of all types, whether you be commercial, industrial or residential, are all hurting,” he said. “We’re able to share that pain with this motion.”

During discussion, Selectman Dan Kowalski argued that a 148 shift should be adopted. That would have lowered the burden from last year to this year for residents while increasing it for businesses.

But while that effect was from year to year, the numbers balanced tax increases for all taxpayers when viewed over a five-year period, Kowalski said.

“Andover is a very diverse community,” Kowalski said. “We have properties in Andover that range from $200,000 to $6 million. We really have to think about the real impact over time to our residents, and I acknowledge that we have to think about it over time for commercial as well.”

But a middle ground between the two shifts, 147.5, was possible, Ballard said. Under that shift, residents paid 2.3 percent more from last year to this year, while commercial property owners paid 2.4 percent more and industrial taxpayers paid 2.2 percent more.

After hearing about the 147.5 option, the board voted against the 147 shift in a 4-0 vote. A second motion supporting 147.5 was approved 4-0.