Mayor Proposes One Cent Tax Rate Change for Homeowners

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Updated: Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini has posted an update about what he is proposing at Tuesday's hearing.

I will be proposing that the residential rate remain approximately the same (approximately a 1 cent increase). Because residential rates are going up by 2%, that means that bills, as opposed to the tax rates will go up.

Under my proposal, the average increase for single family residential taxpayers would be $58 per year, the lowest increase in several years, and the second lowest increase in 13 years. Taxes for the average commercial establishment would remain basically flat, down $11 per year. Industrial properties saw a good increase in values, and they would see an increase in their bill.

This would leave the average Haverhill single family tax bills well below the State average and well below those of most, but not all, area communities.

Business Tax Rate Would Rise 20 Cents Per Thousand

A small relief in property tax bills could come to Haverhill’s homeowners if a plan from Mayor James J. Fiorentini is approved by the city council.

The annual public debate over property tax burden between homeowners and businesses, known as the tax classification hearing, comes before the Haverhill city council Tuesday night.

Councilors will consider a proposal by Mayor James J. Fiorentini to shift the classification factor for the current fiscal year from 156 to 157 percent and to lower the tax levy limit by $500,000 with an allocation from the city’s stabilization account.

According to council documents, the plan would increase, by one cent, the residential tax rate at $15.36 per $1,000 valuation. The commercial-industrial rate would be at $27 per $1,000 valuation—a 20 cent rate increase. The total annual tax for an average single-family home would be $4,172, a $22 savings over last year’s average bill of $4.194. An average commercial property owner would pay a total $15,421 in fiscal 2016.

WHAV has placed calls to City Assessor Stephen Gullo seeking updated valuation statistics compared to last year, but he was not immediately available.

Last fiscal year’s rates were set at $15.35 residential and $26.80 commercial after councilors voted down Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini's proposal for a 160 percent classification factor, opting for 156 percent instead in a what was called a compromise. Average tax increases for both homes and businesses was about $150. Commercial property values had increased at a slower pace than residential values.

In Haverhill, approximately 52 percent of the revenue needed to run the government and schools is derived from the property tax, according to the city assessor’s office.

8 thoughts on “Mayor Proposes One Cent Tax Rate Change for Homeowners

  1. Actually, if the Mayor is proposing a shift% of 157 for 2016, the property taxes for the median residential property will go up by $58 and it will go down by $115 for the commercial property owner. Last year, median property tax was $4114 for residential property was estimated to be using shift of 156, in 2016, it will go up to $4172 using a shift% of 157. Similarly, last year, median property tax was estimated to be $15536 for commercial property using shift of 156, in 2016, it will go down to $15421 using a shift% of 157. You can see the new numbers at the Council agenda for today at the City of Haverhill Website. Unless there has been a big decline in the commercial property values, 157 doesn’t seem to be a fair shift% to me. Even then, a more equitable shift% that will distribute the tax burden more evenly between those two groups would be 159 or 160. For example, at 159, average residential property owner would pay $42 more (which is a 1% increase) from last year and commercial property owner would pay $85 more (which is only a 0.5% increase) compared to 2015.

  2. Actually, if the Mayor is proposing a shift% of 157 for 2016, the property taxes for the median residential property will go up by $58 and it will go down by $115 for the commercial property owner. Last year, median property tax was estimated to be $4114 for residential property using shift of 156. In 2016, it will go up to $4172 using a shift% of 157. Similarly, last year, median property tax was estimated to be $15,536 for commercial property using shift of 156, in 2016, it will go down to $15,421 using a shift% of 157. You can see the new numbers at the Council agenda for today at the City of Haverhill Website. Unless there has been a big decline in the commercial property values (which would be quite surprising), 157 doesn’t seem to be a fair shift% to me. Even then, a more equitable shift% that will distribute the tax burden more evenly between those two groups would be 159 or 160. For example, at 159, average residential property owner would pay $42 more (which is a 1% increase) from last year and commercial property owner would pay $85 more (which is only a 0.5% increase) compared to 2015.

  3. Wait until he has to raise the water rates. I wonder how he is going to spin that one. I can see it now: Mayor fights to keep rates from raising by 50% only raises them 48%…..this year.

  4. The dirty little secret is they need the money for their pensions and gold plated healthcare benefits. Take a look at the budget and you’ll be shocked how expensive.

    • It’s no secret at all for anyone with a pulse and cares to look. Haverhill has what is in the business called a “matured” pension system, more taking than contributing (over 20% of the city budget goes to benefits). This also doesn’t include what now is required to report: Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB’s), which is now hundreds of millions of dollars, and not going to get cheaper thanks to CONgress Members not reading Bills she voted for like ACA, send health care costs skyrocketing…but I digress.

      The only thing keeping this going is the finger crossing that markets still return. Thanks to various Fed policy, like injecting over $4 trillion dollars into financial markets, the expected return appears to be meeting its expected 8% returns. At this point, a monkey could pick equities over the past 7 years and be a winner. Of course, no one wants to mention the leverage it took to get here, so there’s that.

      So while The Citizenry has become poorer (see BLS & Census data), the costs of government, at all levels, continues to become more expensive. Of course in a city as poor as Haverhill, the risks associated with such bad fiscal and political responsibility is compounded. For now, as long as Rep. Brian Dempsey can steal monies from other taxpayers in other communities, calling it “state aid”, it will support what is mathematically an insolvent city. A city, over time, will never be in a position to pay for debts incurred, so more bond underwriting and more legal larceny it is, once again, as The People become poorer.

      Queue Upton Sinclair…

      http://www.mass.gov/perac/docs/forms-pub/annual-reports/2014/haverhill14.pdf

  5. Meanwhile, Haverhill just issued yet two (2) more deficit spending bonds for a total of $6,362,500 (CUSIP 419507BJ6)!

    In the words of Hillary Clinton: “What difference does it make?” So what if your income has crashed here in Massachusetts (real median down 10% since 2001)? So what if Beacon Hill, thanks to Brian Dempsey and friends have raised taxes in Massachusetts 52% in same time period? So what if the city payroll costs have increased 16% in just the past five (5) years alone?

    Business owners should revolt and leave, the state, completely. Too bad the state gives some of them economic heroin to stay (see Southwicks), but that won’t last forever either.

    Just remember who was on City Council when this was approved up on Bacon Hill.

    https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2000/Chapter387