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June 25, 2013

Council looks to trim mayor's $145.3M budget proposal

(Continued)

“There will not be radical changes, not from where I stand on the Finance Committee,” said Ferry. “We are proposing some minor cuts, but it’s not going to be a rewrite of the entire budget.”

Campagnone said she’d like to see the $100 average tax hike go down while also protecting city services.

“I’d like to see some changes,” said Campagnone. “Maybe we can come up with some cuts that will be adequate to save the taxpayers money without impacting the services. ... I just think we have to do some brainstorming.”

At least two councilors won’t be voting in favor of Zanni’s budget. During the 2011 election, Jeanne Pappalardo and Ron Marsan each made a pledge against raising property taxes. It’s a promise both said they intend to keep tonight.

“Everybody knows the pledge I took and I stand by my word,” said Marsan. “The mayor knows my position. I think he should level-fund the budget completely. I think that’s what the taxpayers deserve.”

“I told Zanni two weeks ago I wasn’t voting for his budget,” added Pappalardo.

Zanni has said his budget proposal calls for no layoffs or program cuts. Included in the budget is $1.8 million in municipal employee raises, which the mayor negotiated and the City Council approved last year.

During the current budget year, Zanni’s first as mayor, the average single-family homeowner in Methuen was forced to pay $163 more in property taxes. As a result, the average annual tax bill for single-family homeowners rose to $3,666.

The average commercial tax bill in Methuen is $9,326. Business owners on average paid a year-on-year tax increase of $365.

City Auditor Thomas Kelly said yesterday that he is still “targeting” an average single-family homeowner tax increase of $100. But Kelly said he is also still waiting on finalized numbers for state aid and new real estate growth.

“It’s difficult,” said Kelly. “Those are big factors.”

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