April 21, Revolution 2010
leadership attacks Proposition 2½;
Urges major tax hike
Ways & Means Committee moves to increase property taxes without local
or not, in this year of voter anger and revolt, the House leadership has just
released a proposal to hike property taxes over $500 million, which could be
passed during the budget debate next week.
Murphy, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has amended the Municipal
H-4618, to allow an exclusion from the popular property tax limit that was
created by voters in 1980.
presently allows communities to raise property taxes only 2½ percent a year over
the previous year’s levy, plus a factor for “new growth”. There are no
exclusions for public safety, debt, or any other expenditure, though over the
years some legislators have tried. If communities want to increase property
taxes, they must ask their voters to approve an override.
proposed W&M change in Prop 2½ would allow all communities to increase the
presently allowed levy by the amount in the community’s Overlay (abatement)
money supposedly set aside to pay taxpayers who appeal their property tax
assessment to local assessors, though if not used for abatements it can be spent
on anything at all. There would be no requirement to ask local voters’ approval
of this property tax increase.
time this was tried, the Overlay Exclusion would have turned Proposition 2.5
into Proposition 4.2.
amount set aside in the overlay account varies each year; but if this bill
passes, cities and towns would happily raise the maximum allowed, which is 5% of
the total $11 billion property tax levy, a roughly $550 million property tax
on Prop 2½ was one of Tom Finneran’s first acts as House Ways & Means Chairman
(and is the reason CLT never called him a fiscal conservative). CLT defeated
his first attempt on the House floor; the next three attempts passed and were
vetoed by Governor Weld. Finneran tried again as House Speaker in 2003, but
Gov. Romney promised another veto and the issue was dropped.
Prop 2½ will
be thirty years old this year, the week that all state legislators are up for
re-election, many of them against energetic and viable challengers. CLT will be
dropping a memo to the Legislature on Monday, urging a “No” vote on the W&M
property tax hike.
An Act Relative to Municipal Relief
SECTION 8. Said chapter 59 is hereby further amended by striking
out section 25, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the
Section 25. The assessors of each city, town and district shall
annually raise by taxation such reasonable amount of overlay as the
commissioner may approve. The overlay account shall be used only for
avoiding fractional divisions of the amount to be assessed and to
fund abatements granted on account of taxes assessed for any fiscal
year. The amount of such overlay approved by the commissioner shall
not be included in calculating the "total taxes assessed" in
paragraph (a) of section 21C or the maximum levy limit in paragraph
(f) of said section 21C.
Citizens for Limited Taxation
▪ PO Box 1147
▪ Marblehead, MA 01945