Haverhill Home Value Surge Outpaces Business Properties with the Prospect of Higher Taxes

Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill homeowners generally face higher property taxes as, what is called, the city’s second budget debate of the year, takes place tonight.

The City Council devotes most of its meeting to setting local tax rates—a process known as “classification.”

The values of both residential and commercial properties rose sharply in the last year, but home values increased at a greater rate. Industrial property, on the other hand, continued its slide in value. The value of the average single-family home rose 9.3% in a year, while commercial property went up 6.7% and industrial property dropped 3.7%. Since communities generally cannot raise the total tax amount by more than 2.5%, the higher values mean lower rates.

The city currently charges commercial and industrial property a premium rate of 165% more than homes, but Haverhill qualifies to shift more of the burden on business properties. According to the Board of Assessors, the city meets the criteria for charging business more since it otherwise must consider “a residential share that is larger than the prior years.”

This year the average assessed value of a single-family home is $389,474 compared with $356,446 last year. If current rates remain in place, single-family homeowners will see a 3.66% property tax increase, or pay about $175 more. Owners of the average commercial property would pay $176 more, while owners of the average industrial property will pay $2,351 less. Should councilors choose a factor in between the current and maximum shifts toward business, the average single-family property tax bill would still go up $132. Average commercial property bills would rise $678, while average industrial tax bills would still drop $1,608.

If prior years provide a guide, the city could tap some of its multimillion-dollar surplus to reduce the total amount to be taxed. Last year, however, councilors rejected separate suggestions from the mayor for using $500,000 and, when that failed, $100,000 from the city’s so-called rainy-day fund to reduce taxes.

The Haverhill City Council meets online and in-person tonight at 7 p.m., in the Theodore A. Pelosi City Council Chambers, Haverhill City Hall. As a public service, the meeting will be broadcast live by 97.9 WHAV.

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