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Cambridge City Manager Proposes 2018 Property Tax Rate

The Cambridge City Council meets weekly at the Cambridge City Hall, pictured here.
The Cambridge City Council meets weekly at the Cambridge City Hall, pictured here. By Jessica C. Salley
By Nicholas W. Sundberg, Crimson Staff Writer

For the thirteenth year in a row, most Cambridge residents will see little to no increase in their property tax rates, according to a report presented to the City Council Monday night.

The report, presented in a special meeting of the city finance committee by City Manager Louis A. DePasquale, said that new commercial growth in the city helped maintain lower tax rates, while an increase in the city’s property tax fund has allowed the council to increase support for local initiatives. The budget also outlined expected spending for the next year, including key projects and infrastructure development.

“This is very, very, really good news for the taxpayers here in Cambridge.” DePasquale said. “For the first time, we took $2.8 million and put it towards the affordable housing Trust.”

“The City has been able to achieve a lower property tax rate and lower residential property tax bill than surrounding communities due to its ability to generate diverse non-property tax revenues, foster new construction, control budget growth, and plan prudent use of reserves,” the report reads.

According to City Councillor Jan Devereux, divided out, the residential tax rate will be $6.29 per thousand dollars of value, which marks a 3.1 percent decrease from last year. The commercial tax rate will be $14.81, which is an 8.1 percent decrease. Twenty-three percent of residents will see a decrease in their tax rate this year, while another 45.4 percent will see an increase of 100 dollars or less.

Devereux, along with other Councillors, also spoke out in favor of the programs that the city supports with its tax funds, which include Vision Zero, Cambridge’s bicycle fatality reduction program, and Cambridge’s comprehensive early childhood system, which provides free Kindergarten and early development programs to residents.

“Our programs we provide for our citizens are second to none” councillor Michael J. Toomey Jr. said.

Councillors were also pleased with the city’s first investment in the affordable housing trust, a fund designed to help combat the city’s affordable housing crisis by supporting development projects. The adopted budget notes that these funds have already been used to support affordable housing development projects, like the Concords Highland project.

The city assessors reported that the city added about $16 million of primarily commercial growth over the past year. They also said that the city’s AAA credit rating leaves it with “enormous flexibility” in responding to the financial needs of the city.

When asked why the credit rate was so important by Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, the assessors responded that the extra interest on projects could be in excess of $1 million.

“Overall, this is something we should be very, very proud of” DePasquale said.

—Staff writer Nicholas W. Sundberg can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @NickWSundberg

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