For the second time in three months, the board of aldermen has rejected a proposal that sought to increase the current 20% residential “owner-occupant” tax exemption in Everett up to a maximum of 30%.
For several years, the city has given local qualified homeowner-occupants a 20% tax exemption.
Back in March, the common council unanimously passed a “home rule” petition asking for state approval to increase the exemption “up to a maximum of 30%”.
But the board of aldermen refused to go along with the council at that time, voting 4-3 against the measure.
At the mayor’s urging, the proposal was reintroduced this past Monday night at a joint convention of the aldermen and Councillors.
Assessor Pam Davis told the city legislators that all that was before them was a motion to file a “home rule” petition with the state legislature seeking its approval to give the city the option to consider raising the local residential homeowner-occupant tax exemption from 20% to “no more than 30%”.
With that authorization, the city down the road could set the exemption anywhere between 20% and 30%. Davis said it could be 25% or 28% or 30%, or the city could decide to keep it at 20%.
The assessing official stressed that the “home rule” petition would just give the city the opportunity to raise its exemption up to 30%, something that Boston, Cambridge and Somerville have done.
The final decision wouldn’t be made by the city council until the fall as part of the city’s annual tax rate calculation process.
After Monday night’s joint convention session, the common council proceeded to vote 14-0 in favor of bumping the maximum residential tax exemption up to 30%.
However, the aldermen again turned thumbs down, delivering the death knell this time by a 5-2 negative vote.
Voting to file the “home rule” petition were Michael Mangan and Robert Van Campen. On the prevailing side in opposition were Michael Marchese, Chuck DiPerri, Millie Cardello, Sal Sachetta and Joseph McGonagle.
Ald. Marchese asserted that the tax exemption plan – of which he was the original sponsor back in the Ragucci administration – in his mind has outlived its usefulness. It was only meant to provide temporary, short term relief for local taxpayers, he explained.
The Ward Three alderman claimed that the main issue in the city today should be putting a stop to the spending.
The city is becoming too expensive to live in, insisted Marchese, because of things like its high taxes and exorbitant water/sewer charges.
Ald. Van Campen – who was one of the co-sponsors of the 30% tax exemption plan when it was initially brought up back in March – asked Assessor Davis if there is any way that the city could also give a tax “discount” on local investment properties that are owned by local homeowner-occupants.
Davis said that there is no process to allow that now, but the city could file a separate “home rule” petition with the legislature.
The Ward Five alderman said he might consider sponsoring such a proposal because the conscientious homeowners in Everett should be helped and rewarded.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who had asked the city council to support boosting the tax exemption up to 30%, said he was “very disappointed” that the aldermen killed the plan.
“This was all about options,” said the mayor, “because the plan would have given us extra tools to provide added tax relief to more than 50 percent of our residential taxpayers and most of our commercial taxpayers”.
The mayor explained that the 30% residential exemption, along with a shift to 165% in tax burden for commercial properties – which he was planning to introduce in the fall – would have saved eligible homeowners an extra $75 a year in taxes and would have lowered the average commercial tax bill by over $1,000.
But the aldermen’s rejection of the plan will prevent this from happening, complained the chief executive.