On Tuesday, November 7, Revere voters have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote for a 10% residential tax exemption for qualifying senior citizens who own and occupy their homes.
Now is the right time for Revere to take this step. I urge residents to vote yes.
If adopted by the voters, the tax exemption would apply to senior citizens who own and occupy their homes and have an annual income of under $57,000 a year. This amount is set by state law.
As I think about this program, I immediately think about my grandmother. For many years, she lived alone in her house on Dolphin Ave. As she got older, she was living on a fixed income and had to balance the rising cost of groceries, medical care, heating bills, and real estate taxes. It was challenging and stressful. A program like this can provide a measure of assistance.
Those who would benefit from this program are some of the most vulnerable residents in our community. We need to aid and support our long-term residents and make sure they can stay in their homes--homes they’ve raised families and created memories in.
What is the direct benefit for seniors?
Those who qualify for the program would receive a reduction of their property assessment based on 10% of the average assessed value of all homes in Revere. Based on 2017 values, a qualifying senior would benefit from a $451 reduction of their tax bill.
What would be the financial impact of this program on the city?
One concern by residents I’ve spoken to about this program is what is the financial impact on the city would be, and whether we can afford it.
I am confident that we can. We currently estimate about 1,000 seniors will qualify for the exemption, which would equate to an approximate cost of $400,000 to $450,000--within the context of an approximately $180 million city budget.
The city is experiencing economic growth, which will support the implementation of this program, as well as future investments in our residents.
Let’s move forward together
During my mayoral campaign and since taking office, I’ve continued to drive home the need to adopt a 10% residential tax-exemption for all owner-occupied homes in the city. That remains a priority for my administration. Many of our neighboring communities have implemented similar programs successfully and it has provided a measure of relief for owners who live in their properties.
That said, like with any of my priorities, this administration I will not rush into something without thoroughly reviewing short-term and long-term impact. Being prudent in this regard will help our city in the long run. We have to approach a city-wide program thoughtfully and with long-term planning in mind.
The reason why our administration has not rushed into implement a citywide program can be found in what other communities have experienced. Some communities around Revere have had issues with appropriately verifying eligibility for the exemption, resulting in millions of dollars of revenue that went to people who did not deserve it.
Adopting this program for seniors will serve as a pilot program for a citywide effort. It will enable us to implement an eligibility verification system and navigate through any unforeseen issues before going live with a citywide exemption. Additionally, if adopted, the senior exemption would exist on top of a citywide exemption, providing additional relief to seniors.
For these reasons, I am confident that this is the right first step to take.
Investing in Revere
Adopting a tax exemption program fits into a broader strategy for a better Revere. The cornerstone of that strategy is investing in you, our residents, and making Revere a better place to live.
From investing $1.5 million in new equipment for the DPW, to $250,000 in tackling a backlog of sidewalk repairs, to establishing a new 311 constituent services system, my administration is committed to thoughtful investments that will improve residents’ quality of life and the services we provide on your behalf.
It is critical that we, as a community, work collaboratively to build a 21st century Revere. I am confident that we will continue to make smart investments, including supporting of our seniors by helping them stay in their homes.
I urge you to support this effort by voting yes on Question 1 on November 7, and to support the future economic viability of our community. If you have more questions, please visit www.reveretaxrelief.com.