Merrimack Valley Mayors support Municipal Partnership Act

Today I joined Mayor Thatcher Keyzer of Amesbury, Mayor Michael Sullivan of Lawrence, Mayor James Fiorintini of Haverhill, Mayor Bill Martin of Lowell, Mayor John Moak of Newburyport, and City Manager Bernard Lynch of Lowell in offering our strong support for the Muncipal Partnership Act. We have jointly issued the letter below in the hope that recognition of the great stress being placed on cities and towns will lead to state action. I know that I appreciate the Governor’s leadership on this issue. It has been quite some time since we had an administration that paid any attention to the great inequities involved with the property tax. We have had a great friend and ally in Lt. Governor Tim Murray, whose experience as the Mayor of Worcester has only heightened this administrations awareness in this area. Please support the Muncipal Partnership Act, it will help us to stem the growth in local property taxes.

Cities and towns in the Merrimack Valley are facing another year of tough choices. Our costs, particularly health care costs, continue to rise faster than our revenues. This year, the average community will experience a 9-10% increase in health care costs. In addition, energy and other fixed costs continue to outstrip our ability to pay within the Proposition 2 ½ tax levy limit.

Every year we are faced with the same tough choice – cut vital services or ask our citizens to pay more by raising property taxes.

The Municipal Partnership Act, proposed by Governor Patrick, offers a third choice – a way to ensure delivery of services without asking our citizens to pay more through overrides. The Municipal Partnership Act offers us a chance to lower health care costs, close the tax loophole on telecommunications, and gives us the chance to explore in our own communities whether there should be local option taxes.

We strongly urge our local legislators to support Governor Patrick’s Municipal Partnership Act. The Municipal Partnership Act offers us a means of raising revenues without increasing the property tax burden on our citizens. The Municipal Partnership Act offers our communities solutions beyond cutting critical services. Most importantly, the Municipal Partnership Act offers us hope for tomorrow.

We ask the Legislature to pass the Municipal Partnership Act with all of the provisions proposed by Governor Patrick and give our communities the tools we need to run our cities without constantly raising property taxes.

Mayor Thatcher W. Kezer III
Mayor James J. Fiorentini
Mayor Michael J. Sullivan
Mayor William F. Martin, Jr.
Mayor William M. Manzi III
Mayor John F. Moak
Bernard Lynch, City Manager

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4 Responses to Merrimack Valley Mayors support Municipal Partnership Act

  1. Bill Manzi says:

    Blue Mass Group has a great post on the Municipal Finance Act, written from a muncipal perspective, which is not entirely complimentary. Read it at


  2. Bill Manzi says:

    How about a posting of the remarks of Governor Patrick at the rally for the Municipal Partnership Act. Blue Mass Group excerpted some remarks dealing with the telecom exemption enjoyed by Verizon. His presentation was pretty compelling.

    Now, the final step: the MPA proposes to eliminate a 92year old law. Exempting phone companies from paying the same property taxes that the rest of us pay. That law was written in 1915 to expand telephone coverage in Massachusetts. In fact, to create universal telephone coverage in Massachusetts. Now with communities everywhere all over the commonwealth struggling to fund services, homeowners struggling to pay property taxes, I think it’s time to retire that law. It’s done its job.
    This old law just makes no sense today. It did once. It doesn’t now. You and I pay property taxes. Most other businesses pay property taxes. the electric company pays property taxes on it’s poles – even the same poles by the way that it shares with the phone company. So understand the point. The electric company pays property on the same poles that the phone company does not. No-one is asking that the phone company to do more than to pay its fair share.

    Now, the phone company claims that if they have to pay what everyone else has to pay, they will raise our rates, cut jobs, and slow down the broadband investment which is hugely important particularly for western Massachusetts. I just don’t buy it. And neither should you.

    Let’s look at the facts. Here are the facts: from 2003 to 2005 while your and my homeowner property taxes steadily rose, the phone companies? total Massachusetts tax bill went down almost 46%. Over that same time period our average monthly phone bills went up almost 30%. There is no correlation between taxes paid and rates charged. If there were they would have passed that savings on to us as phone company consumers. It hasn’t happened.

    Here are the facts: the fact is Verizon pays higher taxes in Texas, Washington, New Jersey, California and others. Guess what? In those places rates are lower than rates are for us here in Massachusetts. They charge less where they pay more taxes it turns out. Let’s focus on the facts. No other state has this kind of property tax exemption for the phone companies. And yet employment has grown in all those other states. Not fallen off as they threaten here. And as for that claim about broadband investment, we’ve had this law for 92 years. We still don’t have broadband investment in the western part of the Commonwealth.

    The fact is, we are going to have to deliver on broadband access in the western part of this commonwealth and all across the commonwealth without waiting for the phone company.

    Pretty strong argument by the Governor, especially in light of the fact that he is only saying Verizon should pay a property tax like everyone else. The entire Blue Mass Group posting is linked to here.
    Globe columnist Joan Vennochi has a great column on this subject. Read it at this link.


  3. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    Apparently the Governor is going to close a “loop hole” and tax the telecommunications industry to lower my property tax.

    According to the Blue Mass Group, Stoneham found the potential income as insignificant in solving their Budget problem.

    Would the projected income relieve us property tax payers, or would it be insignificant as in Stoneham?

    My view; if all the proposals of the MPA were enacted, the impact on the municipal budgets would be marginal. Then what?



  4. Bill Manzi says:

    Lifting the telecommunications exemption would be worth $336,298 to Methuen. While that sum is not insignificant it would not be a panacea for local taxpayers. But I am at a loss to understand why there is such an uproar here. Why do you think that Verizon should be exempt from paying property taxes the way that you do? Even if the sum is not enormous why should some pay and others not pay? The exemption was designed in part to promote the expansion of phone company infrastructure, and it has served its purpose. Time to end this exemption.


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