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Haverhill

June 17, 2013

Fiorentini to pitch hotel tax hike again

Mayor says increase to 6 percent can bring Haverhill an extra $78,000 annually

HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini is bringing back his proposal to increase the local tax on hotel stays.

City councilors haven’t been formally notified of the mayor’s plan, but they were tipped off at budget meeting last week when they noticed $78,000 in local-option hotel tax revenue in Fiorentini’s spending proposal for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.

A state law enacted by the Legislature several years ago gives cities and towns the option of increasing the local hotel tax from 4 percent to 6 percent. Fiorentini pitched it for the first time in 2010, but City Council defeated it by a single vote

In an interview after Thursday’s budget meeting, the mayor said he will ask councilors to approve the local-option tax increase in a month or so. He said he’s confident it will pass this time.

The city generated $153,000 this year at the 4 percent tax rate, said the mayor’s aide, David Van Dam. Projections show raising the rate by 2 percent will increase the take to $231,00 next year, Van Dam said.

The local hotel tax, whether it is 4 percent or 6 percent, is on the top of the 5.7 percent state tax on lodging.

Councilor William Macek, who voted against raising the hotel tax two years ago, indicated he might vote for it this time.

Macek said he is inclined to support the measure because the tax money would stay in Haverhill and because it would be paid primarily by non-residents visiting the city.

“This is a transient tax that will help Haverhill residents, but will be paid mostly by people who are stopping here,” he said, referring to hotel guests.

“But I’m going to keep an open mind and make my decision at the hearing,” Macek said, referring to a public hearing that will allow supporters and opponents to voice their opinions before the council votes.

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