EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 3, 2012

Tax classification vote set for Dec. 12

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER – The selectmen are scheduled to decide on the town’s new tax rates Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.

The board initially intended to set the rates Nov. 26, but was unable to do so because the town had just completed its revaluation of taxable properties.

State law requires that at least five days must pass after the revaluation before the new tax rates can be approved. The town has two tax rates: $13.92 per $1,000 of valuation for homes and $19.16 per $1,000 for commercial and industrial properties.

The rates are based on a 1.31 shift, meaning that businesses – commercial and industrial taxpayers – pay a rate that is 1.31 times what they would be charged if the town did not have tax classification.

If the selectmen retain the 1.31 shift, the new rates will be $13.73 per $1,000 for homes and $18.86 for businesses, according to Chief Assessor Garrett Boles. Selectman Rosemary Connelly Smedile said her “guess” is that the board may vote to retain the 1.31 shift – because the impact would be roughly the same for residential taxpayers and businesses.

The selectmen held a hearing on classification Nov.26. Wilfred Carpenter, vice president of sales and service for the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, was the only person who spoke. Joseph Bevilacqua, president of the chamber, wrote a letter to the selectmen asking that the shift between the residential and business rates be narrowed.

Carpenter noted there are about 300 businesses in North Andover and most if not all of the owners pay taxes on their homes in addition to what they pay for their companies.

Neither Carpenter nor Bevilacqua asked the selectmen to consider a specific shift. North Andover is permitted by law to adopt a shift as high as 1.5.

The town also has the option of doing what many communities with relatively small numbers of businesses do: Reject classification.

If North Andover charged only a single real estate tax rate, the current rate would be $14.40 per $1,000, according to Boles.

Massachusetts allows communities to adopt as many as four classifications for real estate taxes: commercial, industrial, residential and open space.