City of Somerville
Massachusetts

Agenda Item
196116
Work Completed
Nov 13, 2014 7:00 PM

That the Chief Assessor and the Director of SPCD appear before this Board’s Finance Committee to discuss the increase in commercial and residential property valuations and real estate taxes, especially for restaurants, and its impact on existing businesses and future development.

Information

Department:City ClerkSponsors:City Councilor At Large William A. White Jr., Ward Four Alderman Tony Lafuente, City Councilor At Large Mary Jo Rossetti, Ward Six Alderman Rebekah L. Gewirtz
Category:OrderPurposes:Order

Official Text

That the Chief Assessor and the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development appear before this Board’s Finance Committee to discuss the increase in commercial property valuations and real estate taxes, especially for restaurants, and its impact on existing businesses and future community development in the City of Somerville; AND BE IT FURTHER Ordered, that the discussion include the increase and impact to residential properties.

Meeting History

Jan 9, 2014 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

The Clerk read the details of the item. Alderman White explained he received communications from commercial property owners in Somerville who have seen large increases in property taxes. He expressed concerns about the impact on further commercial development and the existing businesses in Somerville. He stated he would like the item to go to the Committee on Finance. Alderman Gewirtz voiced her concerns about the large increase in taxes and pointed out it is necessary to find a balance. Alderman Rossetti expressed her concerns about the increasing commercial taxes and noted some of these business owners are also property owners in the area. Alderman LaFuente discussed the importance of balance when it comes to taxes. He expressed concerns about the affordability of Somerville and noted it is the responsibility of the Board to protect the citizens. Vice President Connolly explained he has spoken with property owners in Davis Square who have had large tax increases and recommended the individual property owners file applications for abatement. He suggested the Finance Committee hold a public hearing where business owners can voice their concerns.

Alderman Houston motioned to amend item 49 to include the increased property valuations on residential property. There being no opposition the order was amended. Alderman Sullivan stated he received communications from senior citizens whose property taxes have increased and noted it is difficult to afford them on a fixed income. Alderman McWatters discussed the impact of the tax burden on small businesses. Alderman Gewirtz questioned if there is precedent for these tax increases in the City's history and asked if similar tax increases have occurred in surrounding communities. Alderman Houston stated she hopes to gain more information about the assessment process. Alderman Ballantyne agreed the issue should go to Committee and that there should be a public meeting. President White stated Alderman LaFuente will schedule the public hearing and noted he will ask the City Solicitor to attend.

There being no opposition, the item was approved as amended.

RESULT:APPROVED
Feb 4, 2014 6:00 PM  Finance Committee Committee of the Whole
RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Nov 12, 2014 6:00 PM  Finance Committee Committee Meeting

Members had issues with the dates, locations and lack of BOA involvement in scheduling the community meeting to discuss this matter.

Alderman Ballantyne’s motion that the Administration work with the Board of Alderman to reschedule the community meetings, currently set for November 19th and 20th, was approved.

Alderman Heuston’s motion that the Administration hold off from advertising the proposed community meetings and immediately direct the Communication Department to cease any advertising of same, was approved.

The increase to residential properties will be greater than the increase to commercial properties.

RESULT:WORK COMPLETED
Nov 13, 2014 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
RESULT:WORK COMPLETED