Updated: Homeowners’ Taxes Will Still Rise This Year, But Not as Much

Haverhill city councilors at Monday night’s special meeting.

Homeowners’ taxes will still rise this year, but not as much, after Haverhill city councilors voted Monday night to slightly adjust tax formulas.

The compromise tax classification shifts a bit more to business property owners. In a series of unanimous votes, councilors reconsidered last week’s vote to hold at a 156 classification factor in favor of a one percent shift to a 157 factor and use a $500,000 surplus in the city’s health insurance account, instead of rainy day fund, to reduce taxes. Mayor James J. Fiorentini requested adoption of a 158 factor along with the surplus. A motion by Councilor Robert H. Scatamachia to change to the 158 factor was subsequently withdrawn as Councilors Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, Melinda Barrett and Thomas J. Sullivan supported using the 157 factor. Council President John A. Michitson told WHAV it was “a good compromise” to attract new businesses to Haverhill and to increase the commercial tax base.

“You get more businesses in, they pay a higher percentage of the taxes. In order to do that you need incentives. And lowering their tax rate is one of the key incentives,” Michitson said. Michitson also noted the $500,000 tax break would be temporary. He said the amount below the levy limit can be “tacked on” in the future for capital improvements, including some school renovation projects.

“Moving forward, we’re going to have to use a lot more money, probably a large portion or some of that funding, in order to make sure Whittier (Middle) School is taken care of. We’re going to have to put a renovation project in for that. We’re going to need a renovation project for Tilton (Elementary) School if we decide you can keep it. And then Consentino (Middle) School, we’re going to need a renovation plan where we’ll go to the state and ask them to share the cost with us,” Michitson said.

Under the 157 classification factor and tax break, the average single family homeowner’s annual tax bill will be $4,172 on a property valued at $271, 645. The average commercial property owner will pay a total bill of $15,421 on a $571,169 valuation.

On behalf of homeowners, Haverhill resident and economist Demet Haksever asked councilors to adopt a 159 classification factor as “an equitable solution so that everyone’s taxes increase proportionately compared to last year.”

“CIP (commercial and industrial property) shifts of 156 or 157 gives a tax reduction to the CIP class while increasing taxes for homeowners, so neither of these options are equitable,” Haksever said. “A shift factor of 159 would be most equitable since it would slightly increase the taxes for both homeowners and the CIP class by about one percent. We believe (the) mayor’s proposal of 158 is reasonably fair as compared to 156. Several towns in Massachusetts, including Beverly, Peabody, Salem, Lawrence and Lowell employ much higher CIP shift, ranging from 160 to 175,” she added.

In his role as secretary of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti asked the council to keep the 156 factor. He said there is a need to revitalize the business community around Harbor Place and other projects as the city “was not attracting enough businesses” while the “slice of commercial is getting smaller and smaller.” He also suggested offering tax breaks to major companies “add a burden to small businesses.”


6 thoughts on “Updated: Homeowners’ Taxes Will Still Rise This Year, But Not as Much

  1. From what I understand after speaking to the school department several times is the school system is up about 200 students just this year!!! Class are 40 pupils deep in some schools. The city council better seriously consider halting new housing until it can figure out where these children are going to go.

    My child was forced into a dilapidated sub par Crowell school this year because there are no classrooms at the Golden Hill school which would have been our districted neighborhood school. Right now Golden Hill Elementary only houses grade 1 thru 4 instead of K thru 5. The Crowell school is worse than the school I went to 30+ years ago. Parents and tax payers should be outraged! I know I am.

    • Its going to get worse. Over the next 2 years 300 units will be built in the downtown and 300+ more due in Bradford. If half have 1 child thats 10 new classrooms and 10 class teachers not to mention the support. The school budget will be millions behind and the taxpayers mostly middle class or lower will be paying more taxes. Haverhill needs jobs…..not service jobs at the revolving doors on Washington Street but good paying full time jobs. They also need to step up and not lose what they have when Quality Die just walked to Methuen with it 35 good jobs and an expansion that will include more. Haverhill needs to keep what it has and lower the business taxes to do so.

      • I forgot to add….Haverhill with a school like Whitter Tech with its state of the art training that produces top notch graduates every year you would think the city council and the Mayor would herald this as a huge selling point for tech businesses to locate here.

        I can only imagine if the state was looking to locate a school like Whittier here today how hard the council and mayor would be selling Haverhill?

  2. Haverhill needs to restrict residential building asap until they change zoning. What I see is many single 1 acre lots being subdivided into as many as a dozen units where one home once stood. This one development will require an entire new classroom and teacher. Do the math these condex units average $3,000.00 per unit in taxes. Thats $36,000.00 in tax income and $300,000.00 of expenses to the school system if 20 kids attend Haverhill schools at $15,000.00 per student. The city’s net loss is over a quarter million dollars a year on this one project.
    Think ahead Haverhill before its too late.