SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 4, 2013

Average tax bill to rise $216 in Beverly

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — The average homeowner will pay $216 more in property taxes next fiscal year under the tax rate approved by the City Council Monday night.

Acting on a recommendation from the mayor and Board of Assessors, the City Council approved a tax rate of $14.17 per $1,000 of assessed value for residential properties, up from the current rate of $13.65.

The average price of a single-family home in Beverly is $408,310, according to the city assessors office. Under the new tax rate, property taxes will amount to $5,785, an increase of 3.9 percent.

The commercial/industrial tax rate will also increase, from $24.87 to $25.80.

“The typical bill for both classes (residential and commercial) is going to go up about 4 percent,” Board of Assessors member Peter Caron told city councilors.

In response to a question from Councilor Maureen Troubetaris about Proposition 21/2, Finance Director John Dunn explained that taxes can increase more than 21/2 percent when you factor in new growth. Beverly had about $1 million in new growth this year, Dunn said.

In addition to the property tax increase, property owners will also begin paying the 1 percent Community Preservation Act surcharge that will appear on tax bills beginning in January.

Councilors also approved budget transfers totaling $1,375,860 to account for various deficits. Included in the deficit was $115,300 to pay for sick-leave buyback for retiring employees.

Councilor Jason Silva said the new administration of Mayor-elect Mike Cahill should focus on sick-leave buyback when it negotiates with city unions.

“That’s a lot of money to be allocating for sick time that people haven’t used, essentially,” Silva said.

Silva also questioned a $170,000 transfer to cover an increase in the city’s liability insurance. Dunn said the city’s premium went up because the city has filed more claims than usual for such things as vehicle accidents, fires and flooding.

Silva said the city should put its liability insurance coverage out to bid in an effort to get better prices.

Mayor Bill Scanlon told councilors that the state Department of Revenue has certified $5.7 million in “free cash” for the city, which he said is the largest amount in his tenure and “possibly in the history of the city.”

Silva said the certification is an indication of good budget management by the mayor and his finance department.

“You don’t get free cash in this magnitude without strong fiscal management,” Silva said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.