City finance officials presented the property tax rates for 2020 at Monday’s City Council meeting, and once again, the news is a bummer for most property owners.
Residential single family homeowners will actually see a lower rate than last year, but due to the lack of city reserve funds and an already-approved city budget that needs to be paid for, the average tax bill hit is going up.
Single-family homeowners will pay $13.44 per $1,000 and see an average of a $188 property tax bill increase, based on an average home assessment value of $355,280. Homes that are assessed at more than the average value will see proportionately greater bill increases.
The issue: Home values are going up in Methuen, which in theory is a good thing. But the city’s budget spending is also going up and there are dwindling reserve funds to draw from. So as much as the City Council did to reign in budget spending last year, we as a city are essentially — in the most layman of terms — spending far more than we’re bringing in.
Some Councilors voiced the frustrations they are hearing from residents — we are building all these $800,000 homes, we have made virtually zero infrastructural improvements and yet we continue to see tax bill increases.
City finance officials responded by saying that yes, the city did bring in an additional $1.1 million in new residential tax revenue — but that because of the city’s spending and lack of new commercial tax base, all that new money did was keep down the level of tax bill increase.
The state-appointed fiscal stability officer, Sean Cronin, told Councilors that responsible spending will need to be addressed earlier in the budget approval process.
Two-family homeowners will see an average increase of $376 based on an average assessment of $385,466. Condo owners will see an average $143 increase based on an average assessment of $272,973.
One ominous sign in terms of attracting potential new businesses at a time when surrounding cities are building massive new commercial projects: Methuen’s commercial tax rate is going up to $26.59 per $1,000.
Industrial property owners will actually see a $291 average decrease based on an average assessed value of $201,300 — a result of falling industrial property values in the city.
The $188 average residential increase is more than the $160 average increase last year.
City Councilors had little option but to accept the news and approve the new rates to ensure tax bills go out on time and the city has enough revenue to cover its already approved budget spending.
Councilors Jennifer Kannan and George Kazanjian nonetheless were the two no votes on officially accepting the recommended rate.