Fiorentini Hints at Possible Veto of Council’s ‘Tax to the Max’ Vote

Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Mayor James J. Fiorentini made social media comments that allude to a possible veto of the tax classification. (WHAV News file photograph)

Following a contentious Tuesday night City Council meeting that resulted in councilors voting to tax residents to the state’s Proposition 2 ½ limit, Mayor James J. Fiorentini appears to be preparing to veto his colleagues’ decision.

Making a series of social media comments in the wake of this week’s tax classification hearing, the city’s leader alluded to the fact that he intends to use his executive authority to alleviate a potential burden for taxpayers. His decision comes after several city residents—including teachers—argued that taxes are the way to fund school improvements and other municipal upgrades.

“No one is, or is advocating for neglecting problems. I will have an entire plan in a few days to address our needs AND not tax to the max,” Fiorentini hinted Thursday. “I believe we can meet our challenges, keep our city moving forward, and still keep our city affordable. We can do this!”

Those going against Fiorentini’s proposal at Tuesday’s meeting—including Haverhill attorney and School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti—called taxing to the max a “no brainer.”

While businesses will pay rates 62 percent higher than households in a compromised fashioned by Councilor Colin F. LePage, councilors opted to tax residents up to the full $104 million they are allowed to collect under the tax-limiting law. About another $100 million of the city budget comes from state aid, fees and other income.

Magliocchetti reasoned the city is “short changing” children by restricting technology upgrades like new Chromebooks and failing to properly maintain building infrastructure. Also taking issue with classroom staffing and conditions, Magliocchetti said students and teachers are often forced to work around buckets in classrooms to accommodate leaky roofs.

“This has to do with the vision for the City of Haverhill,” Magliocchetti said. “The families that I know that are moving to the city don’t care if they have to pay a little more in taxes,” he said. “What they’re worried about is that when they have children and start a family, the children have good schools to go to, they have safe, clean streets and feel comfortable coming and going, knowing they’re going to prosper.”

Fiorentini said taxpayers have been saved a collective $3 million in the last several years, reducing the average single-family household tax by $140 annually. This year, coupled with an increased water bill, rising taxes could put a hurting on many area families, Fiorentini reasoned. “There are many people in Haverhill who are struggling. An increase of $200-350 plus the water increase is a big burden,” he said.

The mayor continues to “review options” and plans to provide an update to residents in the coming week.