Council Narrowly Passes Resolution Supporting Fair Share Amendment

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Charlie Breitrose Watertown’s City Hall.

Despite every City Councilor personally supporting Massachusetts Ballot Question 1, known as the Fair Share Amendment, the Council narrowly approved a Resolution supporting passage of the ballot measure.

The Fair Share Amendment would increase tax on income over $1 million from 5 percent to 9 percent, which includes salary, as well as profits on real estate sales. The additional tax would be spent on education and transportation.

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, the Council approved the resolution by a vote of five in favor, two against (Emily Izzo and John Airasian), and two voted “present” (Mark Sideris and Lisa Feltner). See the resolution by clicking here.

Airasian said he would be voting for Question 1 on election day, but he said he believes it is outside the Council’s jurisdiction because it deals with funding at the state level. He said he did not feel right advocating for the issue on behalf of Watertown’s 35,000 residents.

Councilor John Gannon said he believes education and transportation are local issues, and he would like to see better service on the bus lines in Watertown, as well as the best educational opportunities for Watertown students, including vocational education and access to quality state colleges and universities.

Izzo said that the Council is not a partisan body and she does not believe it should be taking a stance on a partisan issue. She added that there are three other ballot questions that have impact on Watertown that the Council is not weighing in on.

Councilor Caroline Bays said she does not believe it was a partisan issues. The ballot question was proposed by a citizens group, and she added that she has heard from Republicans who support the measure and Democrats who oppose it.

Council President Sideris said he voted present, despite voting in support in his role as a School Committee member (the School Committee approved the resolution). Sideris said he believes the Council should have a higher bar for when it weighs in on an issue not directly to do with Watertown.

“As I stated on a recent resolution on unionizing staff at State House, I don’t feel at the City Council level these are thing that the City Council should be weighing in on,” Siders said.

Council Vice President Vincent Piccirilli said while he doesn’t always support resolutions for issues at the state level, he supported this one because it is an issue covering areas for which the Council has advocated for more funding: education and transportation.

The state election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8, and early voting has already begun.

11 thoughts on “Council Narrowly Passes Resolution Supporting Fair Share Amendment

  1. This is a ballot question for the voters alone and this kind of “symbolic” vote by the council is pure grandstanding, nothing more.

    • Except it is not grandstanding when a councilor who is well versed on the city’s financial situation notes that for 15 years the council has not been shy about lobbying the state legislature for more funding because “we need more help from the state.”
      It impacts Watertown, and like many municipalities, Watertown can only rely on increasing property taxes and service fees up to a certain point. Home values only go up in this area. Income flucuates as do the occurrences of surpluses. With a flat income tax, Massachusetts is an exception since 33 states have graduated income tax, including Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and Louisiana.

  2. Fantastic never mind unbelievable! That the city council once again goes where it doesn’t belong. I would have to believe that all of our affairs are completed and this was necessary to fill in the idle time. So while we’re at it, exactly what is the breakdown of money going where? I for one knows since 1985 that the ballot question was going to fix the bridges, see them all fixed, me neither. 37 years later and we still are going to do this and that, along with health care. I’ll bet the road money goes for more things not associated with the motoring public. So the councilors who voted for this must have already solved the rat problem, how about the missing trees at Bacon St. just to name a few, also the Black Earth contract, did that go out with the guidelines of prevailing wage? It’s the same work that’s performed by Republic Services, just because it goes in a different container doesn’t change the scope of the law. You voted to tell the State House that their help needed to be recognized in a union election, so what’s the difference with making sure Black Earth’s employees deserve a living wage. I’ll wait patiently for your answers or maybe we can back charge the Commonwealth for our lost time of you doing their work!

  3. That the Council took a stand on this ballot question 1 is very disappointing. There is a lot of controversy regarding it and I don’t believe local politicians should try to influence their constituents on a Massachusetts issue where the town isn’t going to gain anything and it affects everyone in our state. There have been numerous comments made by Watertown residents on Watertown News on October 3 and 14 with some very credible thoughts of how this ballot would negatively affect all of us in MA. Also there are huge amounts of people who have addressed actual facts on Next Door outlining why people should vote NO.

    The most glaring misconception is that the money would actually go to provide ADDITIONAL money for education and transportation. This cannot be guaranteed as our state laws don’t allow it. The money generated actually goes into a general fund and our legislators, who are known to divert funds to their favorite pet projects and for late night pay increase votes, can allocate the monies elsewhere. Even if any money from this additional sales tax makes it into the education and transportation funds now, the legislature can reallocate current dollars in these funds to other accounts. This would bring the funds back to their current levels.

    The Federal Government has allocated huge amounts of money to roads and bridges, etc. Let the state use that money to do some of the much needed improvements rather than tax all of us for these projects that often go over budget due to incompetence. MA spends more money per mile of roads than so many other larger states and yet our roads and bridges are not in good shape. The gas tax money doesn’t go to the roads and the Turnpike tolls never went away after numerous promises that they would once the project was completed.

    By approving this ballot question they’d just be opening up the door to a graduated tax on everyone. If the millionaires and billionaires decide they don’t want to be taxed extra, they can take their families and businesses and move out of state. This will hurt all of us and our MA economy and then our legislators will be creating more tiers to come after the rest of us to make up for any shortfalls. They already have $3 Billion of excess tax money that they are trying to avoid giving back to us. Vote NO so that they will have to use their existing budgets to manage the state affairs. We have to live within our budgets during these difficult times, don’t we!

    If anyone would like a more detailed explanation of what problems Question 1 could bring to MA if it passes, you may want to visit this website: If we don’t vote NO, we could become “the 4th worst state in the entire country for our tax business climate”, “only better than CA, NY and NJ! Recently “The Tax Foundation released a report that showed Massachusetts is the 4th highest state to lose taxpayer population in the entire country.” Do we want to lose more? We could really become a bigger version of TAXACHUSETTS. Leave the flat tax rate in place and ask the legislatures to manage our money better.

    • Thanks for the comment. Do you have any reference to the fact that they cannot guarantee funds go to education and transportation? Any instances where this was the case with a Ballot Measure in Mass.? Please provide a story or other info if you have one.

      • I do. From Vote NO on Question 1:

        The ballot question’s text plainly states that its funds are “subject to appropriation.” And make no mistake—this language was intentional. In 2019, Beacon Hill politicians rejected two amendments that would have required the new tax revenues to be used to increase funding for education and transportation. Instead, under this language, politicians could legally use the appropriations process to divert existing dollars away from education and transportation—and use them instead for pet projects—while funding for education and transportation could remain the same or even decrease.

        • “Article 44 of the Massachusetts Constitution is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph at the end thereof:-

          To provide the resources for quality public education and affordable public colleges and universities, and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation, all revenues received in accordance with this paragraph shall be expended, subject to appropriation, only for these purposes.”

          Read the law, not the opponent’s argument!

          Facts, in fact, matter!

          • The law is meaningless as to Question 1. Where do the proponents in favor of it say that they will adhere to Article 44? The only fact here is that the “subject to appropriation” bit is open to them to do whatever they want to do with this unconstitutional grab. Do not tell me what to read, as I read everything and I do not presume to tell others what they should read.

            Verum Ipsum Factum.

    • There have been numerous comments from Watertown citizens on various social media platforms, during canvasses and in discussion with Councilors that support Yes on 1. The bill is coming due, and one way or another taxes will go up either through regressive property taxes, municipal fees or income tax. Cutting costs is not a long term, sustainable strategy. It doesn’t work in the private sector nor does it work in the public sector.

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