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Home rule petition could bring $4 million to city

Date: 2/20/2012

Feb. 20, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — The third time has proven, so far, to be the charm for a home rule petition that, if passed, could yield as much as $4 million for the city's coffers.

City Councilor Timothy Rooke began the process to seek passage of a home rule petition three years ago that would allow the city to use the same technology it has to collect unpaid parking tickets to obtain delinquent automotive excise taxes.

Rooke told Reminder Publications that over the last 20 years, $8 million in excise taxes have remained uncollected and if the legislation passes he believes $4 million could be paid during the first year of implementation.

In following years it would create a new revenue stream for the city, he added. To put the sum of $4 million in perspective to the city budget, Rooke noted the new tax rate set by the City Council, which he opposed, raises $6 million in new revenue.

State Rep. Sean Curran said the petition passed the House last week and is now onto the Senate. Once approved there, it would go to the desk of Gov. Deval Patrick for his signature.

Curran said the bill received widespread support this time and Rooke attributed it to the efforts of Curran and other members of the city's legislative delegation as well as the backing of Mayor Domenic Sarno.

In years past, the previous efforts did not receive the same level of attention or support, Rooke said.

"If you don't call and inquire, it doesn't move forward," he explained. The current legislation took nine months to get to the point where the House considered it, he added.

Curran explained that car owners who don't pay excise taxes don't have proper registrations or insurance. Identifying these people means solving what he called a "three part problem."

Rooke said that implementing such a measure to collect excise taxes is a better than creating a new tax or raising an existing tax.

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