Special City Council Preview: Nov. 29, 2018 – Vote on Tax Shift

At-Large City Councilor and City Council President John J. Beltrandi, III.

WESTFIELD – At Thursday’s (Nov. 29) Special City Council meeting at 7 p.m., a public hearing and annual vote on the tax shift will take place. Last year, the City Council voted for a tax shift of 1.65, setting the rate at $36.82 per $1000 for businesses, and $19.36 per $1000 for homeowners. The year before, the tax shift had been 1.66.
At the hearing, the Board of Assessors will provide all information relevant to making the determination. Interested taxpayers are invited to attend and present oral or written information on their views. Written information must reach the City Clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on Thursday to be considered.
City Council President John J. Beltrandi, III said the target is to have a minimal increase either way. “I don’t want to speculate. The Chamber of Commerce will come in and speak for businesses, and we’ll arrive at something,” he said.
“As a business owner and resident, I just want something that’s fair for both involved,” Beltrandi added, saying it’s always “a give and take.”
Before the public hearing and vote on the tax shift, the City Council will be voting for immediate consideration of a transfer of $1 million from certified Free Cash to the Fiscal Year 2019 tax levy. Beltrandi said he is supportive of using Free Cash to offset taxes, although he said there is always a debate on using Free Cash.
The Council will also be voting for the managed appropriation reduction of $200,000 from the Mayor for this fiscal year, which received a positive recommendation from the Finance sub-committee on Monday.
Beltrandi said the city is not looking at a large tax increase. He said revenues have been good, and taxes have been coming in. He said the meals tax and hotel tax also came in better than anticipated.
He also gave credit to Treasurer/Collector Meghan Kane for the city’s position. “Meghan Kane did a wonderful job of managing that office. We’re seeing the fruits of that now,” Beltrandi said. He said the search committee for her replacement has had their initial meeting, and is hoping for a good pool of candidates. “It will be hard to find somebody equally as talented out of the gate,” he said.
Beltrandi also talked about the impending retirement of City Auditor Mary “Happy” Daley. “We’re taking a couple of hits. It’s never a good time,” he said.
Also on the agenda at the Special City Council meeting is the notification of a joint meeting on Monday, Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m. with the School Committee, to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Kevin Sullivan in September. Candidates who are interested may submit their letter of interest to the City Clerk’s office by Friday, Dec. 14.

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