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November 30, 2013

Tax hike looms in Methuen

Average homeowner to pay $137 more under mayor's plan

METHUEN — Residents and business owners will ring in the new year with higher property taxes. Exactly how much more will be determined by the City Council as early as Wednesday.

Starting Jan. 1, the average single-family homeowner can expect their annual tax bill to increase $137, under one proposal by Mayor Stephen Zanni and City Auditor Thomas Kelly.

But a group of city councilors has asked the mayor to come up with an alternate plan that will result in a $100 average residential tax hike — the amount Zanni originally projected when the council voted on the budget in June.

“We just want to see where the cuts would be made to get us closer to $100,” said Councilor Jamie Atkinson, who serves as chairman of the Methuen Finance Committee. “Give us an option.”

The Finance Committee, which is made up of Atkinson and councilors Lisa Ferry and Joyce Campagnone, met with Kelly last week and voted unanimously to request the alternate $100 proposal from the mayor.

Zanni told The Eagle-Tribune that such a proposal will require $700,000 in budget cuts.

“In order to look at $100, you’d have to make additional cuts,” said Zanni. “It’s up to (the council) if they want to cut police and fire and other departments to get it down.”

The council will set tax rates for residential and commercial property owners at an upcoming public hearing. The tax rates are for the current fiscal year ending June 30. The first bills to reflect the new rates will be mailed Jan. 1.

The average single-family homeowner paid $3,666 in property taxes in 2013 on a home assessed at $254,170 — a year-to-year tax increase of $163 that followed a $134 hike the year before that.

Under the city’s latest property assessments, the average single-family home value rose .6 percent to $255,624.

The city currently taxes $14.42 for every $1,000 of assessed value on residential properties and $23.98 per $1,000 on commercial properties. In all, 84 percent of Methuen’s tax base comes from residential properties.

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