Haverhill Homeowner Taxes Could Rise $300 Annually Unless Council Takes Other Action Tonight

Haverhill Chief Financial Officer Angel A. Perkins and Mayor James J. Fiorentini answer City Council budget questions during a May 2022 meeting. Then-City Clerk Linda L. Koutoulas is behind them. (WHAV News photograph.)

Average home property taxes will rise by almost $300 annually—what the mayor calls “the largest increase in 30 years—unless city councilors decide Tuesday to shift more of the cost to businesses and agree to take money from the city’s surplus.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini told the City Council in a Thursday letter average homeowners already faced “a fairly normal tax increase of $151,” but the city must now cover a $1.8 million school deficit. The extra would pay recently negotiated teacher salary raises.

“In many ways rising property tax values are a good thing, Haverhill has become a very attractive city. Our industrial parks are booming. Our downtown is booming. People are moving to our city and driving up property values. For most of our residents, their home is their most substantial asset and often the only thing they have to leave to their children,” Fiorentini wrote.

The mayor is also resisting an effort to pay for the replacement Dr. Albert B. Consentino School by asking voters to exclude its cost from the state’s tax-limiting law, Proposition 2 ½. He estimated doing so would raise taxes another $200 annually for the average residential taxpayer. He did add, however, that “if costs for Consentino should spiral out of control, if interest rates or construction costs go up higher than we currently project and we become unable to pay for this, then we can and should ask for debt exclusion at that time.”

Fiorentini proposes paying the additional teacher salaries by taking $1.7 million from the city’s surplus, known as “free cash,” increasing its estimate of income by $120,000 and raising commercial tax rates to 70 or 75% higher than residential. Commercial property has paid 65% more for several years.

The mayor said he is unable to attend tonight’s meeting in person since he is on vacation, but questions will be answered by city Chief Financial Officer Angel Perkins.

The Haverhill City Council meets tonight at 7, remotely and in-person at the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, room 202, Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St., As a public service, 97.9 WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.

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