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November 28, 2012

Scanlon to veto new tax breaks

Beverly: Mayor 'in favor of the concept' but wants more discretion

Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon said yesterday that he will veto the tax break law passed by the City Council last week but still supports the overall concept of the plan.

Calling it a “friendly veto,” Scanlon said he wants the law changed to give the mayor more discretion in deciding the size of the tax breaks that a developer would receive from the city.

“We’re just trying to get this legislation as good as it can be,” he said. “It’s important for people to understand that I’m very much in favor of the concept.”

The law, passed unanimously by the City Council, would give developers along a certain stretch of Rantoul Street a 70 percent tax break on residential developments for the first five years and 30 percent for the next five years.

Scanlon said he agrees with the concept of tax incentives to spur development but says the mayor should have the authority to offer a lower percentage depending on the project. He would like the council to add language that says a developer could get a tax break of “up to” or a “maximum” of 70 percent.

Scanlon said he wants that option because “not all projects are created equal.”

“If you give too great a percentage tax reduction, and it’s automatic and you have no control over it, we might wind up with a substandard project,” he said.

The veto took some councilors by surprise. In his 17 years as mayor, Scanlon has rarely vetoed legislation passed by the council. Scanlon said he has used his veto power at least once, but he could not remember the issue.

“I’m almost shocked that he’s doing it,” Ward 5 Councilor Don Martin said. “I’ve served with him now for 17 years, and I can never remember him vetoing one thing.”

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