DERRY — There’s some serious sticker shock in Derry as residents open their tax bills at the start of the holiday season.
“Our bill jumped $1,400, which is a lot right before Christmas,” Amy Velez said.
She and husband Jeff have lived in their Old Auburn Home for eight years.
The Velezes paid $3,338 in taxes in July. They now owe another $4,706 by Dec. 11.
They’re not alone.
Town Administrator John Anderson and some town councilors said they have received calls from unhappy property owners, asking why their tax bills are so high.
Derry’s current tax rate is $30.48 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up $1.40 from last year’s rate of $29.08. That’s significantly higher than other Southern New Hampshire towns.
Just ask former town councilor Kevin Coyle.
He said many factors drive a tax rate, but said the town and school district have done little to make it better.
“Both have consistently refused to cut back on services, despite a declining enrollment in the schools and stagnant population growth,” Coyle said. “Lower taxes are a result of lower spending and until our town leaders recognize this, Derry’s taxes will continue to go up.”
Coyle, recently elected as a county commissioner, heads the Derry Alliance of Taxpayers, a group formed to promote lower taxes in town.
Other towns and their rates are $20.50 in Londonderry, $18.80 in Atkinson, $20.58 in Salem and $23.05 in Windham.
In March, the Town Council approved a $45 million budget, up 2.3 percent over last year. That’s below the charter-mandated tax cap, as Town Administrator John Anderson pointed out.
The town charter requires spending increases be kept under a 3.2 percent increase.
But, the reality is, tax bills are higher this year.
Town and school district leaders have several reasons for that increase.
One is a townwide valuation, which cost the town $167 million in property values.