Gov Baker Signs Higher Residential Exemption for Chelsea Homeowners

By Seth Daniel

Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a home rule petition forwarded by City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the City Council that allows owner-occupied homeowners a 35 percent reduction on their property taxes.

The measure has been discussed for several years by Councillor Giovanni Recupero with little success, but the idea hit a wave earlier this year when Ambrosino signaled he would support such a measure and Councillor Roy Avellaneda codified it in a Council order – an order that increased the savings from 30 percent to 35 percent.

“I have always advocated for this and now we have it,” said Recupero. “I’m glad the homeowner in Chelsea is getting a bigger break. I’ve been asking for that every since I got up here. They told me we could never do this and now we did it. What changed? I’m happy to see it.”

Councillor Avellaneda said he is happy that homeowners will get an even further break.

“I’m thrilled Governor Baker signed the home rule petition I sponsored that increases the tax exemption for Chelsea homeowners,” he said. “I want to thank my colleagues for supporting the measure, the City Manager for helping advocate for it on Beacon Hill and our state delegation, Senator Sal DiDiminico and Rep. Dan Ryan for pushing it through. I’m sure the homeowners of Chelsea will enjoy the reduction on their tax bill.”

The residential tax exemption works by shifting the tax burden to non-owner occupants and to some higher valued owner-occupied properties. The idea is to reward residents living in lower valued homes and give those residents a break on their property taxes. One consequence, though, is that if there aren’t enough non-owner occupants, then some owner occupants in high-value homes can be hurt by the measure.

In this case, Ambrosino said that cut off was the $625,000 number and only four homes fall into that category.

For a $300,000 home, a City analysis showed, a 30 percent exemption this year would have yielded $292 in savings on the tax bill this year. For a similar home, the 35 percent exemption would have yielded $451 in savings on the tax bill.

Right now, 13 communities in the state have a residential exemption, with the majority of those being at 20 percent. Chelsea’s exemption was also 20 percent until last week.

The measure passed last Thursday and is retroactive to July 1, 2016.

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