By Katy Rogers
Mayor Carlo DeMaria has long said that, aside from jobs, he believed the Wynn Boston Harbor casino would mean property tax relief for Everett homeowners, and on Monday night, those words became action as the mayor proposed to use $8 million to reduce to tax levy and the tax bills for residents.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that we are able to do this,” Mayor DeMaria explained, crediting a lot of the increased income to the Wynn Boston Harbor development (of the proposed $8 million, a total of $5 million is from Wynn). “Traditionally we always use a few million dollars from stabilization or free cash.”
The Mayor’s proposal, which was approved by the Council, uses the entire $5 million building permit payment Wynn gave the City last summer, and it also throws in $1 million from the Rainy Day Fund (Stabilization) and $2 million from the City’s Free Cash. Those two funds have been used in the past for tax relief, but never before has Everett had casino money to augment that pay down.
The proposal was heard on Monday evening when Mayor DeMaria joined the Everett City Council for a classification hearing regarding the fiscal year 2017 Tax Rate and residential exemption vote.
Chairman of the Board of Assessors, Bill Hart, offered a presentation explaining the breakdown and anticipated tax reduction plan.
“On average, last year, a single-family home taxpayer had a $3,071.48 tax bill, with a 20 percent (owner-occupant) exemption. This year, that same average single-family home with a 25 percent exemption, if you so approve, will pay $2,918.77,” Hart explained, urging the Council to accept the Mayor’s recommendation.
The general consensus was that this tax relief would benefit Everett homeowners but not without further questions from the City Council.
Councilor Mike McLaughlin asked, “Why did we decide this year versus any other year to go to 25 percent [exemption] versus 20 percent last year?”
Hart explained, “The 25 percent exemption has just been passed by state legislature, so we didn’t have that option before. That’s why this is the first time you’ll see it.”
Furthermore, Councilor Leo McKinnon asked if the intention of this proposal is meant to balance out the large increases to property values. Since residential property values are increasing, homeowners won’t necessarily see a great amount of savings, even with the 25 percent owner-occupant exemption and the $8 million to offset taxes.
It was also discussed whether this tax relief could be maintained for the coming years.
“We have the funds and we have the funds for the foreseeable future,” Mayor DeMaria assured the Council. “Not only with the Wynn resorts, but with all of the new growth and development in the city.”
He explained that with the new hotels on the Parkway and other new businesses being introduced to Everett, the City will see an influx of income through taxes where revenue for the City was not coming in at this capacity before.
“This is a good thing for the City of Everett; this is a good thing for residents who own property,” he said. “It’s not a save all for everybody, but it’s weakening the burden. A lot of residents, with the value of the property going up, even though the rate has gone down, are going to see an increase in their taxes. Commercial taxpayers are going to see a benefit this year, which is great.”
There are 8,537 residential parcels in the City of Everett and 4,095 will receive the owner-occupant exemption, which is applicable to only those who occupy the residential home they own.
While single-family homeowners will see a decrease in their taxes, multi-family dwellings will see a slight increase because their property values increased more drastically in the past year, which has been the case in Everett and many surrounding cities as well.
The Council unanimously approved the proposed rate and the rates will be $14.48 per $1,000 of value for residential taxpayers, and $35.69 per $1,000 of value for commercial/industrial taxpayers.