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Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Wu is pushing a property tax proposal, says he’s putting his hope in the Legislature

By meerna Jun12,2024

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. Mary Schwalm/AP

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu defended her efforts to give the city the authority to temporarily increase the commercial property tax rate on Tuesday, saying the idea had broad support and expressing hope that state lawmakers would agree to it.

“My job is to clearly identify what the city needs and then do everything in my power to make it happen,” Wu said during an appearance on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio.”

In this case, Wu made her intentions known back in April when she filed a self-rule petition for change. Residential property owners face a potentially “dramatic” increase in property taxes due to falling commercial values. The solution, Wu argued, is a five-year plan that would allow the commercial property tax rate to be raised by up to 200% in the first year, then gradually lower it, and then return to the current parameters.

Residential property owners would still feel the impact of tax increases, but the goal is to give them a soft landing, according to Wu and members of her administration who have been invited to speak before the City Council in recent weeks.

Real estate and development groups have fiercely opposed the plan, saying it would hurt small businesses and an industry that faces its own set of enormous challenges. Opponents say office buildings could be assessed at lower values, resulting in lower tax revenues for the city. Councilman Ed Flynn, who voted against the measure, warned of the potential for an “urban doom loop” in which cuts to city services would reduce Boston’s attractiveness and further depress property values.

Despite opposition, the resolution was approved by the Boston City Council last week by an 8-4 majority. Now Wu must win over members of the Legislature. The proposal’s prospects on Beacon Hill are unclear, and Wu has yet to present data and support the plan in the House, she said.

“I have not resigned from the Legislature,” Wu told GBH.

She described the way her administration is carrying out this task as “unconventional” because of its proactive nature. Officials won’t know until later this year whether commercial property values ​​have dropped enough to require a change.

“Things often happen at extremely urgent moments,” Wu said. “It is unusual for us to seek this authority ahead of a potential emergency.”

The mayor echoed the words of many of her allies on the City Council last week, saying it was important to provide the city with a “tool” that can be deployed when needed.

“If all goes well, we won’t need it at all,” she said.

Wu also said she was “irritated” by some media reports on the topic, which called the proposal “controversial.” She said she expected public outcry from lobbyists, but it did not reflect widespread opposition.

“It actually hasn’t caused any controversy in any of the neighborhoods or any of the spaces that I’ve talked about,” she said. “There are people whose job it is to lobby for the lowest possible corporate taxes. This is how they feed their own families. They will always pursue this, regardless of the impact of these policies on people outside the companies they represent.”

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By meerna

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