EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 28, 2013

Selectmen to vote on tax classification on Monday night

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Selectmen are scheduled to vote Monday night on the classification rates for real estate taxes. Currently, businesses pay 131 percent of the rate that they would pay if there was no split between residential and commercial property owners.

Residential taxpayers pay roughly 86 percent of the rate they would be charged if there was no split.

Homeowners pay an average of $5,600 per year in real estate taxes while the average for businesses is $11,200, according to Town Treasurer Jennifer Yarid. The current rates, approved by the selectmen last December, are $13.73 per $1,000 for homes and $18.86 for businesses.

Chief Assessor Garrett Boles will present a recommendation on the rates Monday night. Boles could not be reached for comment for this article.

Selectman William Gordon said the board will probably “keep it the same.”

The current split does not appear to be drawing significant opposition, he pointed out. The board voted last year to keep the rate at 131 percent for businesses, which the selectmen approved in 2011.

“I would suspect that we would repeat that,” he said.

Selectman Tracy Watson said she needs to “study the issue” during the weekend.

“I hope we will have less of an increase than last year,” she said.

Selectman Donald Stewart said he also needs to review his information packet before deciding how he will vote on the issue.

Joseph Bevilacqua, president of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, wrote a letter to the selectmen last year asking that the shift between the residential and business rates be narrowed. He did not specify what he thought the shift should be.

Massachusetts voters approved the Tax Classification Amendment in 1978. The measure allows towns and cities to to charge businesses up to 150 percent of the no-split tax rate.

Town Manager Andrew Maylor said he will present his financial forecast for the next five years Monday night. Although he declined to provide details of the forecast, he said he does not intend to recommend an override of Proposition 2 1/2, the state law the limits real estate tax increases to 2.5 percent unless voters in a town or city approve higher spending.