FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lindsi Mailler
(413)529-1400 ext. 143
Mayor Nicole LaChapelle proposes funds to support Easthampton residents
Two funds address cannabis impact fees and tax rate stabilization; all measures ensure that new revenue used to protect vulnerable residents and encourage others to give back to the City
EASTHAMPTON – This Wednesday, Mayor Nicole LaChapelle will propose to City Council three new financial tools to address Easthampton’s short-term needs and long-term goals:
• Cannabis Impact Fee Stabilization Fund
• Tax Rate Stabilization Fund
• Municipal Sustainability Donation Account
The Cannabis Impact Fee Stabilization Fund would provide financial support to ensure that cannabis-industry impact fees are being maximized and applied in specific focus areas anticipating an impact from the sales of cannabis, bolstering City resources to support community outreach, education, public infrastructure, public safety, and planning. This proposal also seeks to ensure that Host Community Agreements negotiated by the City are followed to the letter of the law by all parties.
“As I shared during my State of the City address, we face challenges ahead and must ensure that everything we do fulfills our responsibility to be strong fiscal stewards for your taxpayer dollars,” said Mayor LaChapelle. “We frequently hear the community’s valid concerns about affordability in Easthampton, particularly the impact on elders, young families, the disabled, veterans, and renters whose landlords pass the increase onto them. We conducted a long and in-depth legal exploration and unfortunately, were informed of a disappointing reality: The rules outlined by the Department of Revenue do not allow tax relief in the form of tax rate exemption for a singular group, based on overall rising costs. So, we had to get creative.”
A Tax Rate Stabilization Fund would support efforts to reduce the City of Easthampton’s tax rate. This fund would help the City identify means to reduce the tax burden for all, and not at the expense of any one taxpayer while balancing the increasing demands of a growing city.
Mayor LaChapelle will also propose a Municipal Sustainability Donation Account to reduce the impact of increased climate-related municipal utility expenses on the City’s budget and tax rate. Going forward, this donation account can be used to fund projects specifically designed to reduce the City’s energy costs.
“Through a comprehensive review with the Auditor’s Office, we sought to identify large line-item budget demands to see if we could tighten our belts, to lessen the burden on the taxpayers while still meeting our needs as a City,” said Mayor LaChapelle. “Utilities are a huge portion of our budget. There are some very concrete steps where we can make for long term reduction to that budget line item. This fund – a community-based mechanism for change – is an indirect but impactful way to lessen the tax burden on residents, make a more sustainable City, and ensure that we are operating an efficient government free of wasteful spending.”
The two proposed funds and donation account will be before City Council on 6:00 PM, Wednesday, January 22, City Council Chambers, 50 Payson Avenue, Easthampton, MA.