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Quincy officials say new budget hold down taxes, avoid layoffs

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  May 1, 2012 04:38 PM

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Quincy officials said they will keep to a promise to hold down property taxes, despite suggestions to raise them to promote financial stability.

The city received the suggestion from an outside financial advisory in early April that raising property taxes could combat the city’s AA3 rating, the lowest in the AA category (AAA is the highest).

Compared with surrounding cities and towns, Quincy should really be at an AA2 rating, said Cinder McNerney, a financial adviser from First Southwest.

A higher rating would mean lower interest rates when borrowing, and a higher level of fiscal stability, not only to deal with the unexpected, but to take advantage of arising opportunities.

But city officials said in a press release issued Tuesday that the budget for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, would not only keep property tax growth within state limits, but wouldn’t include any layoffs to accommodate that request.

“We are stable and the economy is certainly improving, but it would be foolish for anyone to think we are totally in the clear,” said Mayor Thomas Koch in a release. “We are being responsible and cautious, knowing that everything we do must be sustainable for the long-term. It’s going to be a tight bottom line, but we will me making new investments in education, public safety and infrastructure.”

As such, the city will continue to amass one of the highest excess levy capacities in the state ($19 million), which designates the total amount a city or town can increase property taxes on its residents under the Proposition 2 ½ limit. Only Cambridge has a higher uncollected reserve.

According to Koch, the policy has saved the average homeowner hundreds of dollars on property tax bills over the last several years, and gives Quincy among the lowest average residential tax increases over the last three years in the state.

The remaining specifics of the budget are being saved for the presentation to the City Council next Monday night, but Koch said the decisions the administration was making now were about what the city could afford to add, not about what it needed to cut.

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