City Council Votes Tax Hike
Cambridge Will Receive $8.5 Billion in New Revenues
In a rare show of unanimity last night, the City Council passed a small tax increase for fiscal year 1991 which will levy $8.5 billion in new revenue on the city.
The measure will increase the tax rate 62 cents from $9.51 to $10.13 on each $1000 worth of residential property, and raise the rate 99 cents from $18.16 to $19.15 for $1000 in commercial property.
The council also unanimously approved a large tax abatement on homes worth less than $400,000 and doubling the normal tax relief for veterans, the elderly, and the blind. The council also approved a measure shifting the burden of the city' tax levies more squarely onto commercial properties.
The tax hike passed unanimously, although Councillor William H. Walsh did grill City Assessor Sally Powers over this year's reassesment of property values in various Cambridge neighborhoods.
While the assesed value of homes in the wealthy Brattle St. area fell four percent, the assesed value of homes in working-class North Cambridge rose seven percent.
"I think it's sad when single family homes in working class neighbor-hoods get hit hard," said Walsh.
But Powers and City Manager Robert W. Healy insisted that the assesment was fair and said the high-priced Brattle St. homes had fallen in value.
"I assure you our computers are non-political," said Healy. "There are no philosophical beliefs attached."
In other business, the council peppered Healy with questions regarding enforcement of the revised ordinance governing street performers.
The ordinance was liberalized last summer to allow performers to play at up to 80 decibels until 11 p.m. in nonresidential areas throughout the city. Members of the city Arts Commission are supposed to work with the police and licensing commission to enforce the ordinance.
But councillors complained last night that the ordinance is being ignored in Harvard Square. "I don't think we have a coherent program of enforcement," said Councillor Francis H. Duehay '55.
The council also passed an order sponsored by Councillor Timothy J. Toomey asking the police to enforce traffic laws as they pertained to bicyclists in the city. In addition, the council passed a order calling for a city ordinance requiring cyclists to wear helmets.