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Merrimack Valley

December 2, 2013

Andover OKs across-the-board tax hike

Average homeowner bill rising $376; commercial rate jumps, too

ANDOVER — Tax bills are going up across the board in Andover — but it could have been worse, at least for residents.

The Board of Selectmen last night voted a split tax rate that will see commercial and industrial property owners paying about $10 more per $1,000 in assessed property value than residents.

Under the new rate, residential taxes will go from $14.51 to $15.18 per $1,000 in assessed value, which will mean an increase of $376 in the tax bill for the average homeowner, who can expect to shell out $8,343 this fiscal year.

Commercial and industrial property will pay $25.25 per $1,000 in value, up from $24.26 last year. The average commercial tax bill will rise $1,702 to $49,993, while the average industrial bill will increase $4,978 to $89,543.

Under tax classification, cities and towns are allowed to shift more of the property tax burden to commercial/industrial property owners by charging them at a higher rate than residential property owners. Under the so-called tax classification shift, commercial property owners can be charged up to 50 percent more on their tax rates than residential property owners, which would be expressed as a 150 shift.

The vote for a 147 tax classification shift was approved 3-2, with Selectman Brian Major and Chairman Alex Vispoli opposed.

Early discussion from the board was for a 146 classification shift, which would have increased the average residential tax bill by an additional $22, whole lowering commercial bills by $337 and industrial tax bills by $603.

Major said he supported the 146 shift because residential bills would have seen a 5 percent increase, while industrial bills would have seen a 5.2 percent increase.

Selectman Dan Kowalski rejected the proposal, however, saying that while the 146 shift “keeps your residential and industrial close,” but only places a 2.8 percent increase on commercial tax bills, creating a lopsided situation.

“Your commercial (tax base) represents half a billion dollars of your tax base,” Kowalski said. “Having a 2.8 percent increase for your commercial (taxpayers) seems nonequitable.”

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