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Councillors set minimal residential factor as $11.78; adopt homeowners’ tax exemption at 25 percent

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  Councillors voted 10-0 to adopt the minimal residential factor in setting the city’s Fiscal 2023 tax rate during Monday’s Special City Council meeting at City Hall. The council set the residential factor at $11.78 for residential and $25.36 for commercial, industrial and personal properties, effective January 1, according to Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas. Councillors also voted 10-0 to adopt a residential homeowner’s tax exemption of 25 percent in setting the city’s Fiscal 2023 residential tax rate – the value that isn’t taxable for owner/occupied and residential is $158,590, according to Demas.

  Since Everett adopted a split rate at the maximum shift (1.75), that reduces the tax burden on the residential properties from 73 percent to 52 percent of the tax levy and increased the commercial, industrial and personal properties from 27 percent to 48 percent. Approximately 30 percent of the cities and towns have split rates, according to Assessor B.J. Devereux. “The purpose of a classification hearing is to allow a shift in the tax burden between property classes from residential to commercial/industrial/personal property,” Devereux said.

  It was a public hearing; however, no one in the audience spoke in favor nor in opposition.

  “Everyone pays the same tax rate, but assessment is reduced,” Devereux said. “Last year’s tax rate was $10.36 per thousand on residential properties, and $24.04 per thousand on commercial properties.”

  Councillor-at-Large Stephanie Smith said approximately 73 percent of the city is classified as residential. “If that is going to decrease, by putting some of these ordinances in place, residents’ taxes will go up, if we don’t have someone come in and replace these commercial properties that are going away,” Smith said.

  Ward 6 Councillor Alfred Lattanzi asked if the package benefits residents. Devereux said it benefits homeowners greatly by reducing taxable value, through the residential tax exemption.

  Lattanzi asked how they compare to surrounding cities and towns. Demas said that using the Fiscal 2022 figures 308 communities in the Commonwealth have a larger tax rate.

  Councillor-at-Large Michael Marchese asked if it was the adopted budget, assuming they adopted the $7 million from Free Cash to help offset the tax levy. Later in the meeting, councillors voted 10-0 to transfer the Free Cash to reduce the Fiscal 2023 tax levy.

  A power plant is anticipated to close in the coming years, which will reduce tax revenue.

  Marchese said that at the rate they’re heading the city will become approximately 80 percent residential.

  “The city lost almost $260 million from the power plant [Mystic and Distrigas Assessments] that is closing by 2024,” Demas said. “That created almost a $7 million shift over to the residents.”

  Marchese asked where the money generated from Encore Casino goes. Demas replied that it’s part of the General Fund revenue, not part of Free Cash.

  “That levy needs to be raised by the taxpayers both residential and commercial,” Demas said.

  Matewsky said he supports the homeowners and condominium exemption, which is allowed to go up to 35 percent, according to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 59, Section 5C. “It’s great that property values have increased, but your taxes will go up, because of the increase,” Matewsky said. “This 25 percent homeowners’ exemption is a big help for people who own their homes.”

  Demas said the implications of increasing that exemption will give a larger break to owner-occupied, but that shift wouldn’t apply to apartments or landlords, including multifamily units.

  Ward 3 Councillor Darren Costa asked what goes into Free Cash. Demas replied that is approximately $18.3 million, which consists of outstanding receivables, unspent appropriations, and revenues in excess of estimates.

  Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins asked why the shift now. Devereux said they’ve done the maximum shift annually to put as much tax levy burden on commercial properties as the law allows. “I support going up, but the challenge is exemption going up for owner-occupied, and the cost goes up to the renters,” Martins said.

The city’s Assessor, B.J. Devereux, said the councillors voted to reduce the tax burden on residential properties and increase the commercial, industrial and personal properties tax during Monday’s Special City Council meeting at City Hall. (Advocate photo by Tara Vocino)

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