EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 13, 2012

Council approves property tax hike

Average increase: $57 for homeowners, $953 for businesses

(Continued)

Despite that signal, the council quickly passed the 1.50 factor with little discussion. Only Councilor William Ryan commented publicly.

“This is always a difficult issue for the City Council,” Ryan said. “But we have to think about people who own homes and are struggling. Twenty-seven dollars is a lot for someone on a fixed income.”

The vote for the 1.50 factor was 8 to 0, with Councilor John Michitson absent. After the vote, a business owner with Armirian said he believed Michitson would have voted to lower the factor because Michitson has said he does intend to run for election next year.

“I was surprised there wasn’t even a discussion (about lowering the factor) after the mayor said he wouldn’t veto it,” Amirian said.

Under the new tax rates, the owner of the average commercial/industrial property will see their annual tax bill increase by $953 to $15,200. That’s more than twice as much as those taxes went up last year when they rose $427.

Meanwhile, the owner of the average residential property, which includes single-family homes, apartment buildings and condominiums, will see their bill increase by $57 to $3,268. This increase is much less than last year’s $130 hike.

City Assessor Stephen Gullo said the reason for the discrepancy is that commercial and industrial properties held their value better than residential properties.

Gullo also noted the average business property value of $579,053 is inflated by the inclusion of large businesses such as BJ’s and Target. Most businesses, he said, are smaller and have smaller values. Therefore, he said, those smaller businesses will see increases that are less than the average $953 hike.

This year’s tax levy — the amount of money the city must raise in property taxes — is $86 million, up from $83.7 million last year, Gullo said. The increase represents the maximum 2.5 percent tax increase allowed under state law, plus new revenue from new homes and businesses in the city, Gullo said.

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