This could be the year Manchester aldermen override the tax cap. They are discussing it openly, and at Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting the budget talk between Mayor Ted Gatsas and At-large Alderman Dan O’Neil got heated. With the rhetoric already politically charged, here is something city voters need to know: Taxes and spending have been rising steadily since the cap took effect.
The tax-and-spending cap (it limits both) went into effect in 2011 after the voters who demanded it finally overcame the numerous obstacles aldermen had thrown in its path. Since then, what has happened to city spending and taxes?
Both have risen, not fallen. Last year the city tax rate rose by 2.11 percent. The increase was just 1 percent the year before that.
Under the cap, city spending has never been cut below the previous year’s level. It has gone up every year. The problem is that expenses have risen at a faster rate.
Curbing the growth in city spending and taxing is exactly what voters wanted the cap to do. They were tired of the huge increases aldermen were approving. In 2004, the year before Frank Guinta became mayor by campaigning on taxes, aldermen approved an 8.4 percent tax hike — a $400 increase for the average home in the city. (Alderman O’Neil, by the way, voted for that.)
Aldermen are likely to claim that the city just cannot survive without a big tax increase. However they try to justify an override, don’t let them get away with claiming that the cap has cut city spending or taxes. It has not.