Add higher water and tax bills to the equation

By Seth Daniel
[email protected]

In the midst of some of the toughest economic times in recent memory and a high level of unemployment in Revere, Mayor Tom Ambrosino said residents should brace for a mammoth water and sewer rate increase and another large property tax increase.

“We will be short on revenues by at least $3 million, maybe $4 million next year,” said the mayor.

Most strikingly, ratepayers this July 1 should brace for a water and sewer rate increase of 25 percent or more over last year’s.

Ambrosino had been waiting to see how water and sewer collections went this month, fearing that low collections would lead to a midyear water and sewer rate increase.

Apparently, that increase must occur, but the mayor said he wouldn’t do it midyear. Rather, he will tack on this year’s shortfall to next fiscal year’s rates.

That announcement comes just as the MWRA said Revere would most likely see a 13 percent increase for its water and sewer charges next fiscal year, which starts on July 1. That increase mostly comes from the sewer end.

The rationale from the MWRA is that Revere’s latest U.S. Census estimates the city at 55,341 people.

That’s up sharply from the 2000 Census, which had Revere at 47,283 people.

“As a result, I am no longer considering a midyear fiscal year 2009 increase,” the mayor wrote in a memo to the City Council. “Because the rate increase in fiscal year 2010 will be so dramatic, I don’t wish to pile on with a midyear change. Instead, I will propose one change for fiscal year 2010, most likely a very large one…”

Councillor George V. Colella, a staunch advocate for water and sewer rate reduction over the years, said he was astounded by the announcement of such a large increase.

“I think it’s an absolute absurdity,” he said. “I don’t know how he’ll make that up, but we have to do something different. If that stands, that would just put people in a frenzy and an out-of-business mindset, and I’m talking about the homeowner particularly.”

The mayor said that increase is estimated currently to be in the mid-20 percent range. However, it could go higher if the MWRA isn’t subsidized by state funds, as it has been in the past. The 13 percent increase from the MWRA for Revere assumes a subsidy.

On top of that bad news, residents can expect their property taxes to increase as well, though it’s not certain right now what that will mean in dollars and cents on the tax bill.

“We will be taxing to the max,” said the mayor. “It will absolutely [increase tax bills].”

Those increases wouldn’t be felt until next fall, after the tax rate is set.

He said they would also be looking to tack on local option taxes as much as allowed. Local option taxes are usually things like the meals tax and the hotel room excise tax. The state Legislature is now considering allowing the state and cities and towns to raise those local option taxes, though nothing has been voted on yet.

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