Understanding debt limits Municipalities issue debt to fund long-term capital projects such as schools and other buildings. In well-run communities, bond terms align with the lives of the capital assets being funded, a practice that provides resources for future projects. Paying debt service on assets long out of use can have dire financial consequences. So who decides when bonds should be issued? Cities, towns, and special purpose districts may authorize indebtedness by a two-thirds vote of their respective legislative bodies. A municipality’s statutory debt limit is based on equalized valuations (EQV). The EQV represents the estimated value of all taxable property in each municipality, an amount that is regulated and reviewed every three years by the Commonwealth’s Bureau of Local […]
About Madeleine Cammarano
Madeleine Cammarano is a Roger Perry Transparency Intern for Pioneer and recently graduated from the University of New Hampshire at Durham with a degree in political science.
Massachusetts municipalities generate the bulk of their revenue from local taxes, primarily property taxes. Tax revenue is spent on a variety of community needs including: Education Road and bridge construction Public safety Sewers and water In 2016, the 10 towns with the highest local taxes per capita had all been within the top 20 towns since 2000, according to MassAnalysis. The towns with the highest local taxes per capita remained steady over the previous 16 years. All had less than a 20 percent increase. The amount of revenue local municipalities have to generate largely depends on how much state aid they receive. Overall, the ten towns with the highest local income taxes per capita receive very little state aid. These […]
Fines and forfeitures can be a relatively significant revenue source for municipalities. In 2017, they generated a total of $103,647,376 for Massachusetts cities and towns. Such revenue plugs holes in local budgets. According to MassAnalysis, the five municipalities with the highest fine and forfeiture revenue per capita generated a total of $75,232,513 in 2017, accounting for 78 percent of the statewide total. Fines and forfeitures are collected from a variety of sources, including: parking and speeding tickets neglecting trash/snow removal property seizure during an investigation. The fluctuation of state and federal aid municipalities receive in a fiscal year impacts how aggressively they pursue fine and forfeiture revenue. In 2017, Boston generated half the fine and forfeiture revenue in the state […]
Local governments generate capital from a variety of sources: service charges, federal revenue, state revenue, licensing and permit fees, local taxes, and interfund operating transfers. Pioneer Institute’s Website, MassAnalysis, “allows the comparison of municipalities based on a wide variety of metrics.” The website shows that in 2017, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts supported its municipalities with a total of $5,375,589,950 in state aid and $11,886,739 in K-12 education funds. Highest Municipal Receiver of State Aid Per Capita In 2017, Lawrence was the highest municipal recipient of state revenue per capita. Lawrence received a whopping $2,583 per capita, or $205,475,789 state aid. From 2012-2017, state aid increased by 19.83 percent. Compared to its five closest urban peers, Lawrence received at least 30 […]