In one of the most contentious Board of Aldermen meetings in the last few months, Aldermen Robert Van Campen, Joseph McGonagle, Michael Marchese and Charles DiPerri voted on Monday night not to transfer $4 million from the Stabilization Account to the general fund. If approved the transfer would have given homeowners and business owners a badly needed immediate decrease in their tax bills. The same order had almost unanimous support last week at the Common Council meeting.
The effect of the transfer would have decreased the average homeowner’s bill by about $300 and the average business owner’s bill by $2,000 starting in January.
The order, which had been introduced by Mayor Carlo DeMaria called for dipping into the almost $9 million stabilization fund to give taxpayers a tax relief in what has been termed the worst economy since the Great Depression.
The meeting turned very personal as Alderman Robert Van Campen told DeMaria that he needs to treat the Board with respect. While City Auditor Larry DeCoste got into a brief shouting match with McGonagle who used erroneous financial numbers as a reason to vote down the measure. On several occasions, acting President DiPierri told both his colleagues and speakers to abide by the rules.
Alderman Joseph Sachetta urged his colleagues to vote for the measure saying that for many people in Everett, this money will pay for another tank of heating oil.
McGonagle used the lower tax rates of Wakefield, Melrose and Saugus to say that Everett’s rate is just too high. “We are looking for cuts (in this budget),” he said to DeMaria.
Alderwoman Millie Cardillo took exception to using these communities as comparisons as she reiterated that they are unlike Everett and are more suburban and do not have the need for police and fire. She pointed out that Wakefield’s police force has 50 officers as compared with Everett, which has 107.
Following the meeting, Mayor DeMaria said he was deeply disappointed.
“This administration is committed to the long term growth of this city, using stabilization funds is clearly a last resort option. We wanted the Aldermen to consider this transfer as a means to provide some relief to the homeowners and renters who are struggling now more than ever.
While I’m disappointed the Aldermen did not agree with our plan, I understand their concerns and will make every effort to adapt, move forward and work together on next year’s budget.
This administration is continually working to provide good services to our residents. We’re renegotiating contracts with all of our unions, coming up with realistic solutions. Our City Services crews are taking on more responsibility – decreasing our reliance on outside vendors and every department is doing more, with less.
As fixed costs continue to rise: healthcare, pensions and our commitment to school spending; we are controlling and managing our costs to the best of our ability. Our goal is to get more relief from the State House, however, realistically we have to keep working to bring in development that will help build and shape our vision for the future.”