Around New England

Maura Healey’s Plan To Allow Local Governments To Charge Higher Taxes Is ‘Very Exciting,’ Massachusetts Mayor Says

February 13, 2024

Allowing Massachusetts towns and cities to increase taxes on lodging, restaurant meals, and owning a car is “very exciting,” a western Massachusetts mayor said.

Nicole LaChapelle, the mayor of Easthampton, expressed support for Governor Maura Healey’s proposal to enable local officials to increase certain taxes.

“This excise tax is kind of like the chicken and the egg — if we can have the option to increase that tax, then we have the option to build and support more infrastructure for tourism and local jobs. Even though Easthampton doesn’t have a motel or a hotel, the fact that this act is putting forward an option that’s tailored to our needs and other small communities around us is very exciting,” LaChappelle said Tuesday, February 13 during a meeting of the state’s Local Government Advisory Commission, according to State House News Service.

LaChappelle, who has been supported by Governor Healey and by U.S. Representative Richard Neal (D-Springfield), announced in September 2023 that she’s not running for re-election in 2025, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

The state government currently charges excise taxes on hotels, motels, and short-term rentals (such as through AirBnb); restaurant meals; and owning a motor vehicle. Since 2009, town and city governments have had the option to charge an additional excise tax on lodging and restaurant meals, with a cap set by the state. Most do.

Governor Healey’s proposal, called the Municipal Empowerment Act, would increase the maximum local-government excise tax from 6 percent to 7 percent of the price of a room (and from 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent in Boston), would increase the local-government meals tax from 0.75 percent to 1 percent, and would add an additional 5 percent surcharge on motor vehicle excise taxes to generate revenue for local governments.

The governor’s bill has gotten “mixed reactions from legislative leaders,” State House News Service reported on Tuesday.


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