Councilors to Reconsider Tax Vote; Urge Homeowners to Speak

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan.

Note: Story has been updated to reflect the special meeting takes place Monday night at 7 p.m. instead of Tuesday.)

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan has requested reconsideration of the council’s decision this week to allow homeowner taxes to rise while businesses fall. He is also urging homeowners to air their concerns at a special city council meeting Monday.

Sullivan said the only reason he voted in favor of Tuesday’s motion was so he would have the ability under the city charter to request a reversal.

“I support the homeowners and I was outraged by the comments that night (by Councilor Michael S. McGonagle and others). They were all so adamant about having their way. The best tactic was to vote for the majority. Hopefully, this Tuesday night we can reverse a bad decision,” Sullivan told WHAV this morning. He added he will make “persuasive arguments” to try to change some of his colleagues’ minds.

“I suspect we will have quite a few homeowners. I’m calling on all concerned homeowners to come to next Tuesday’s meeting and let us know how they feel about the decision we made, and implore us to change our vote,” Sullivan said. He said Fiorentini has held off from vetoing last week’s decision in light of the council’s special meeting.

Sullivan has received support from Councilors William H. Ryan and Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien and a special meeting takes place Monday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m. The meeting was originally planned for Tuesday, but was changed to Monday by City Council President John A. Michitson after learning Councilor William J. Macek had a conflict Tuesday. Sullivan said he supports Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s original plan to take $500,000 from the city’s reserves to reduce the overall tax levy and raise the classification factor one percent, thereby shifting more of the increase to businesses.

“I can’t go into the coffee shop without being accosted. Voters approved the Hunking School project last year. “Is that any way to say thank you for their support?” Sullivan asked.

City Assessor Stephen C. Gullo told WHAV Wednesday the average single-family residential tax bill will rise by $88 over last year to $4,202. The average single-family valuation increased by 1.4 percent to $271,645. The average commercial property tax will decrease by $126 this year to $15,410. Average commercial property values fell by 1.5 percent over last year to $571,169.

By a vote of 6 to 3, councilors Tuesday held to a 156 classification factor. The motion was made by McGonagle and seconded by Councilor Melinda E. Barrett—both owners of Merrimack Street businesses. An attempt to shift more of the tax burden to businesses, a 158 factor, proposed by Councilor William H. Ryan and seconded by Councilor Robert H. Scatamacchia, failed 7-2. Councilors also also voted not to blunt the increase by using $500,000 in reserves to reduce taxes.

5 thoughts on “Councilors to Reconsider Tax Vote; Urge Homeowners to Speak

  1. No, I disagree. Businesses keep moving to Plaistow because it is tax free and that is where consumers shop. That’s a Massachusetts problem, that Haverhill itself can not solve!

  2. Nice to see the businesses get a break for a change in Haverhill….they never usually do….that’s why they keep moving to Plaistow….maybe we can get a few to stay now with the new development coming to the downtown area!

  3. Here’s what I don’t understand: Residential taxes have gone up each and every year that he’s been the Mayor. Why all of a sudden is he beating the drum for homeowners this year? Don’t get me wrong, as a homeowner in town I’m pleased by it but I just don’t understand the new stance from Mr. Mayor? When I’ve asked the mayor in the past why taxes get raised to the max every year, one answer he provided me with was that it’s called Prop 2.5, not prop 0. Snarky, I know. This is a serious change in philoposhy from than response.