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Georgetown considers not one, but two, overrides

Posted April 29, 2011 08:37 AM

There’s nothing like a roof collapsing to underscore the problem of deferred maintenance.

In the aftermath of the Feb. 3 collapse at the Perley Elementary School, which caused no injuries but precipitated an evacuation of all of Georgetown’s school buildings, Superintendent Carol Jacobs noted that the incident might spark discussion about facilities and maintenance needs.

“I don’t know if people will say ‘I want to pony up the money,’ but I absolutely think these types of things heighten people’s awareness,’’ she said after the collapse.

Nearly three months later, residents will consider just that Monday as one of two Proposition 2 1/2 overrides on the annual Town Meeting warrant. Town officials are requesting $729,583 to fund a consolidated school/town maintenance department, while the School Department is seeking a $1.2 million override for its operating budget.

“We’re not happy with two overrides,’’ Jacobs admitted recently. “Why would we be happy with two overrides? Frankly, the town probably needs both. But the record in Georgetown has not been that people vote any override, never mind two to the tune of a $2 million increase in their taxes.’’

Read more of David Rattigan's Globe North story here.

Gov. Patrick wants to step up tax collections

Posted January 28, 2011 09:26 AM

To help balance the state budget, Governor Deval Patrick is turning to a trusted tool: stepping up tax collections.

In his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, the governor is requesting funds to hire 15 additional employees to boost tax collections and examinations of tax returns, particularly those filed by major corporations operating in multiple states. He also proposed several other changes that would produce larger tax payments from corporations.

“You hunt where the ducks are,’’ said Robert Bliss, Department of Revenue spokesman. In addition to targeting large corporations, Bliss said the new employees would tackle other types of cases, including income tax returns filed by individual taxpayers.

The administration predicted the $1.2 million spent on the new hires would yield $61.5 million in additional tax collections, through increased assessments and settlements with filers. The Department of Revenue is already on track to collect an additional $24 million in tax revenue during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, through more tax compliance work.

Patrick also proposed tweaking the formula that corporations must use to calculate their state excise tax, resulting in an additional $20 million in collections. The change, which would primarily affect large out-of-state companies would base sales calculations on where services are delivered, rather than where they are originated. Eleven states, including California, have adopted similar measures.

And Patrick suggested delaying the introduction of an arcane deduction for publicly traded corporations — called “FAS 109’’ — for one year to postpone losing $46 million in tax revenue.

In addition, Patrick proposed raising an additional $8.7 million a year by requiring travel companies that resell hotel rooms on the Internet to register with the Department of Revenue and pay taxes on the amount they mark up room prices. (Hotels already collect taxes on the rooms from customers.)

The governor also wants companies that received tax incentives from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to forgo pocketing $5 million of the credits until later years. And he wants to keep the next round of incentives from the Life Sciences Center to $10 million, down from the $25 million called for in the 2008 law that created the program.

Patrick estimated the state could reap at least $20 million more a year by expanding the bottle deposit law to apply to noncarbonated drinks, including bottled water, fruit beverages, iced tea, and sports drinks.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which represents many local businesses, said it was still studying the potential impact of all the tax changes, but was particularly concerned about additional enforcement.

“That could be troublesome,’’ said Brian R. Gilmore, executive vice president for AIM, noting that Massachusetts already has more onerous tax policies than other states.

However, business leaders were relieved the governor resisted touching the corporate tax rate, which is scheduled to decline to 8 percent in fiscal 2012, after dropping to 8.25 percent in the current year, based on a tax cut the Legislature adopted in 2008.

“That’s very significant,’’ said Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Guzzi.

Todd Wallack can be reached at

State revenues up 9.5 percent in October

Posted November 1, 2010 11:22 AM

State revenues for the month of October were up $117 million, or 9.5 percent, from the same period a year ago, a sign of an improving economy, the state Revenue Department said today.

The revenues of $1.342 billion were also up $209 million from the benchmark set in the spring. For the year, the state is $413 million above expectations in revenue collections, the department said.

Revenue Commissioner Navjeet K. Bal said October is a relatively small tax collection month, but "collections ran well above benchmark due to strong withholding and corporate/business collections, and to a lesser extent, stronger than expected sales tax collections."

"These are all signs of a strengthening economy and a return to fiscal stability," she said.

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