Last month, District 6 City Councillor Giovanni Recupero’s proposal to lower water and sewer rates for homeowners who live in the city narrowly won council approval.
Monday night, Recupero took another shot at cutting a financial break for Chelsea’s home and business owners.
This time, the support for a proposal to have City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to explore limited-term tax relief for homeowners to make improvements to their properties was less than enthusiastic. The council voted 6-4 against moving the proposal forward to the city manager for further research.
Recupero promoted the tax relief as being similar to Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which is a public financing method used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects.
“In this world, if you don’t try, you will never get anything done,” Recupero said, adding that the tax relief would benefit those who make improvements to one-, two-, or three-family homes, condominiums, or small businesses.
Several councillors said they were concerned that using the TIF structure for private homes could lead to legal issues.
“I’m concerned that we are traveling to a place that could put the council in jeopardy,” said Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson. “We’re traveling down some murky waters and I’m going to be voting against it.”
District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda said the City is not in the business of being a bank, while District 2 Councillor Luis Tejada noted that the tax breaks could have a long-term impact on city finances.
“I can’t think of any benefit of giving a TIF to a homeowner if they are going to put in a new bathroom or a deck,” said Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda. He added that when there is a TIF for a business, it is usually as part of an agreement to bring more jobs to a community.
“There is no benefit that the city is getting” from a home improvement TIF, Avellaneda said.
District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop, Council President Damali Vidot, and District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia joined Recupero in voting to have Ambrosino further study the proposal.
“This would encourage people to fix up their homes,” said Bishop. “Why not encourage people to fix up their one-, two-, or three-bedroom homes and condominiums?”
Bishop said that Recupero’s request was only to have the city manager study the issue, not to immediately put it into effect.
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