EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 9, 2013

Council to consider hotel tax hike tonight

Council rejected proposal by a single vote in 2010

HAVERHILL — The city is poised to take a larger bite out of hotel guests.

City Council is scheduled to consider tonight a proposal by Mayor James Fiorentini to raise the local tax on hotel stays by 2 percent. The mayor estimates the increase will add another $78,000 per year to city coffers.

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 the council defeated it by a single vote.

In a recent interview, the mayor said he’s confident it will pass this time.

Haverhill generated $153,000 in the fiscal year that ended June 30 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 $231,000 in the new fiscal 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.

Money from the proposed tax rate hike is already in the city budget, so if it were to be rejected, the shortfall would have to be made up with spending cuts or new revenue from another source. Tonight’s meeting is at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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 additional tax money would stay in Haverhill and because it would be paid primarily by non-residents visiting the city.

City Council President Robert Scatamacchia, who voted to increase the hotel tax last time, said he intends to do so again. He said he does not believe the few dollars raising the tax would add to the typical hotel bill would cause people to look for hotels outside Haverhill.

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