By Seth Daniel
Following in last year’s footsteps, Mayor Carlo DeMaria has asked that the City Council approve a request to use the entire $12.5 million Wynn Boston Harbor payment – which was delivered last May – for property tax relief.
The request came at Monday’s City Council meeting, and the Council voted for the initial authorization to use the money for tax relief in an 11-0 vote. The matter will be discussed in-greater detail during the tax rate setting process later this month, said Council President Anthony DiPierro.
Mayor DeMaria has long said he wants the Wynn payments to be used – at least in part – to mitigate the rising property tax bills that will come with the prosperity brought by Wynn. Last year, he proposed to use the entire amount – then $5 million – for tax relief.
It was agreed to by the Council after some debate.
Now, he said he wants to do the same with the even larger amount.
“We are experiencing tremendous jumps in property values, at a percentage rate amongst the highest in the state,” wrote the mayor. “In particular, I am so pleased that our homeowners are seeing this type of increase in value- for many of us, our home is our primary investment. At the same time, I am sensitive to the corresponding increase in property tax that comes with an increase in home value. I particularly recognize the need to mitigate the tax burden on homeowners now so that the people of this city, many of whom have lived here for decades and raised families here, can stay in their homes and continue their investment in our neighborhoods and civic life. This $12,500,000 tax relief proposal will help offset tax bills for both residents and business owners.”
DiPierro said the Council voted only to authorize the money for tax relief. He said he believes it should go to help homeowners and business owners whose properties are becoming more valuable due to the prosperity now coming into the city.
“I know it’s a large sum of money, but it is the people’s money in the end,” he said. “It should be returned to the pockets of the taxpayers…It’s going to help them in a tremendous way. Any relief is good relief for the taxpayers of this city.”
That said, number of councilors do have questions about the usage of the entire amount, and the idea has not yet been cemented. More discussion about spending the Wynn money on tax relief is expected when the City comes to officially set the tax rate at a hearing later this month.
DeMaria wrote that he understands many residents and councilors would like to think about using the sum for major projects, but the mayor said the time for that is in the coming few years.
He described this year and next year to be transitional times where major tax revenue streams will all begin to come online – including the casino and its annual payments. He said when those more lucrative revenue streams hit, he would then like to begin focusing on the “transformative” projects.
Until that time, he wants to give the taxpayers a break.
“I believe that we are on steady financial ground and can responsibly use this money to offset the tax levy at this time,” he wrote. “Let me be clear: these next two fiscal years represent a transition – a time before major developments come online and bring in truly significant amounts of revenue. We are uniquely positioned as a city to invest those significant new revenues into the components that will make us a tremendous place to live or visit- modernized workforce housing and housing that is affordable for seniors; a cutting-edge transportation system that will facilitate mobility and economic growth; recreational facilities that can be enjoyed by young and old alike to promote community health; and so much more. While future revenues will be dedicated to transformational projects such as these, I understand how important it is to provide a measure of tax relief to our residents and business owners now.”
A hearing to set the tax rate has not yet been set, but is expected soon.