NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

November 28, 2012

$184 hike for Port taxpayers

City Council approves $13.32 rate

BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
STAFF WRITER

---- — NEWBURYPORT — The average homeowner will see about a $184 hike in property taxes in the coming year under a new tax rate approved by the City Council Monday night.

The council OK’d a property tax rate of $13.32 per $1,000, which city officials say is less than they could have levied under state guidelines.

Last year, the municipal tax rate was $12.80 per $1,000.

City officials say that the average single-family residence currently is assessed at $438,300. The owner of that home would pay about $5,882 in real estate taxes with the new annual rate.

In the previous year, the average single-family residence was valued at $445,200. That homeowner was in line to pay $5,698.

The rate increase was kept down by the City Council’s acceptance of Mayor Donna Holaday’s request for a $308,330 free cash transfer “for the purposes of setting the tax rate at a reduced level for the coming year.”

Holaday said she championed the new tax rate as a means of keeping costs down during a period of significant capital expenditures.

In a letter to city councilors, she said taxpayers are realizing benefits from capable money management at City Hall.

Also, she said, “Ratepayers have seen increases in their water and sewer bills this year to cover the costs of the ongoing capital improvements to the wastewater treatment plan and the water treatment facility.”

She added, “The residents of the city voted overwhelmingly in favor of overrides for the Nock/Molin School, Bresnahan School and senior/community center ... the residents will feel the impact of those votes on next year’s bill.”

The council also voted to retain its uniform tax-rate policy, which means that residential, commercial and industrial properties are all taxed at the same rate.

About 85 percent of the city’s property value is residential, with commercial at 8 percent and industrial at 4.7 percent. Minimal classifications are open space (.01 percent) and personal (1.7 percent).