2-family homes to see jump in taxes

NASHUA – City administrators are predicting that the owners of two family units in the city will see the biggest increase in taxes as a result of the first update of assessments in four years.

Some 84 percent of those homeowners will see tax bills that are more than $500 higher, according to figures presented at a meeting to discuss the city’s updated assessments.

Mailings detailing the new property tax assessments for some 27,000 properties are to be mailed today. It is the first update done since 2000.

About 90 residents came out Thursday night as the Board of Assessors hosted an informational meeting at Nashua High School North to explain the new figures.

The total assessed value of the city increased to $7.1 billion from $5.5 billion and the tax rate will drop to an estimated $19.87 per $1,000, cutting about $5.69 from the tax rate.

A home assessed at $200,000 will have a tax bill of $3,974, according to figures from the city.

Administrative Service Director Maureen Lemieux said that while the city’s tax rate will drop, the tax bills will not be lower.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it, said Lemieux, who supervises the Assessing Department. The updated property assessments will reflect the market rates for properties, which have only been going up, she said.

John Doran, of ERA The Masiello Group, said starter homes in Nashua sell for around $250,000. “That’s a shock to some people,” said Doran, one of the two real estate professionals who talked about trends in the housing market.

As consequence of the updates, residents encouraged the Assessing Department to prepare its staff for an onslaught of complaints, changes to the senior citizen tax exemption and a possible revival of the largely quiet Nashua Taxpayers Association.

One woman called the new updates “weapons of mass frustration.”

Fred Teeboom, a former alderman and past leader of the taxpayers association, said the high taxes are because aldermen do not clamp down on spending.

“It’s the unwillingness to abide by the spending cap,” said Teeboom, referring to the mechanism that is supposed to limit the growth of city spending. It was adopted by city voters during the early 1990s in reaction to a revaluation done citywide.

Paul Levesque of Luke Street said the city policy on senior citizen exemptions should mirror the state practice, and remove the $100,000 asset limitation.

People worked all their lives to save money and it is not right for the money to have to be used for increased taxes, he said.

Some aldermen got in a heated exchange with the chairwoman of the Board of Assessors, Marylou Blaisdell, over whether the city waited too long to conduct the update.

“Lord, help us all,” said Alderman-at-Large David Deane, a critic of the four-year wait, to applause from the audience.

Blaisdell said the board updated the assessments in 2000, adjusted those figures in 2001 and 2002, and unsuccessfully sought a revaluation in 2003. There was not a mistake, she said.

On the assessing figures, statistics from the Board of Assessors showed the median value of a two-family home increased to $239,534 in 2004 from $127,742 in 2000, an 88 percent increase.

By comparison, the median value of a single-family home in 2000 was valued at $161,823; in 2004, it was $236,817, a 46 percent jump.

Lemieux added that 70 percent of the owners of single-family properties will see a tax increase of less than $500.