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Friday, March 21, 2014

Finance Committee to Discuss Tax Exemption Increase

The Finance Committee will be discussing a Home Rule Petition submitted by Mayor Joe Curtatone that requests an increase in Somerville's Residential Tax Exemption from 30% to 35% placing it as the highest exemption in the State.

Legislative number 196427 was on the Board of Aldermen agenda at their March 13th meeting and comes after many businesses and residents saw significant increases in their tax bills following a recent reassessment. A Public Hearing was held and the administration has promised to explore other exemptions to help ease the financial burden and prevent it from being shifted to another tax-paying group.

Responding to why the City doesn't seek a larger amount than the proposed 35%, the Mayor was quoted in a press release stating, “Today’s Somerville renters are tomorrow’s two-bedroom condo owners and two-family home owners, who will settle in the community and raise a family here. Neighborhoods should have a variety of housing types for a variety of people, and we need to strike the right balance between supporting homeowners and renters,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Increasing the exemption to 35 percent instead of 40 percent means that we can still provide relief to the middle class and retirees, while mitigating the burden Somerville renters could face in the form of higher rents due to the building owner seeing a larger tax increase.”

The Finance Committee will meet on March 24th at 6:00 PM in the second floor Committee Room of City Hall. This meeting is open to the public, but is not designated as a Public Hearing. They will also be discussing the following agenda items, as well:

· 196375: Discuss That the Administration consider exempting senior citizens from paying the surcharge associated with the Community Preservation Act.
· 196418: Recommend Requesting an appropriation of $64,000, and authorization to borrow $64,000 in a bond, for Architectural and Engineering Services to replace existing temporary trailer living quarters for the Fire Department at 220 Washington St.
· 196419: Recommend Requesting the acceptance of a $5,000 grant from Project Bread, for the Health Dept.'s Shape Up Somerville program to support access for low income residents to the Mobile Farmers' Market.
· 196420: Discuss Finance Director responding to #196320 re: FY14 appropriations.

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