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Local News

December 12, 2012

Peabody taxes will rise $95 for average homeowner in 2013

PEABODY — The value of your house may have dropped. Your investments may have faltered. And your paycheck might be shriveled.

But all the same, if you live here, your property taxes are going up in 2013 by an average of $95.

Here’s the good news, however. Only two other Essex County communities, Salisbury and Methuen, are leveling a smaller increase than Peabody.

“We’re still in tough financial times,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt told the City Council last night. He cited, for example, the uncertainties created by Gov. Deval Patrick’s announcement of a possible midyear reduction in state aid required by flagging revenues.

Additionally, the mayor continued, a hope for savings reaped by the agreement to put city worker health care into a statewide system can’t be expected until next year.

Bettencourt stressed his efforts to relieve some of the burden on the local businesses that have helped keep Peabody’s tax rate one of the lowest in the region for decades.

“The business taxes in the city of Peabody,” Councilor Dave Gamache said, “afford us the opportunity to have the third-lowest taxes in the county. ... We’re so lucky to have an industrial park and the mall.”

Out of the $146.7 million required to run the city in the coming year (a 1.8 percent increase), 54 percent is slated to come from the city’s commercial properties, the bulk of that from the Northshore Mall. Homeowners will pay 46 percent.

Councilors expressed misgivings about the amounts required from businesses, and they several times proclaimed the city’s need to seem and to be business-friendly.

Fred Martini of the Board of Assessors downplayed the role that low taxes play in attracting business, however. Instead, Finance Director Patty Schaffer touted other factors. The presence of several major highways, for example, gives Peabody an extraordinary advantage in attracting profit-making organizations, she said.

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