For Immediate Release - January 24, 2007



BOSTON- Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - Governor Deval Patrick today filed his first piece of legislation, a bill that would grant tax relief to families impacted by the November 22, 2006 chemical explosion in Danvers.

Working with Senator Fred Berry (D-Peabody) and Representative Ted Speliotis (D-Danvers), Patrick filed a bill that would provide tax abatement to families whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the explosion.

"I am proud that the first bill I am filing will help those families who lost their homes begin to pick up the pieces," Governor Patrick said. "The explosion that rocked Danvers in November has left many of those who live there with no place to call home. Thanks to the work of Senator Berry and Representative Speliotis, we are able to take a major step today in assisting those who need it most at this time."

The legislation filed by Governor Patrick allows those residents who lost at least 30 percent of their property value as a result of the explosion to apply for an abatement that could save them, on average, $1,000 on their property tax bill for the current fiscal year. The bill provides for a specific exemption from Ch. 59 § 2D (e) of the General Laws, which states, "whenever in any fiscal year, the assessed value of real estate is decreased by over 50 per cent as the result of fire or natural disaster, the city or town shall abate or refund taxes received."

However, because the affected homes are located along a riverbank and are prime waterfront property, the value of the land exceeds significantly beyond the value of the homes, such that the "assessed value of real estate" has not depreciated by more than 50 percent as a result of the disaster. Due to this unique situation, the homeowner victims of the disaster do not qualify for the tax abatement under current law.

"I am grateful the Governor recognized the hardship these victims are facing," Senator Berry said. "I am hoping we can get this abatement passed quickly so our good neighbors in Danversport have one less thing to concern themselves with."

"This is an important bill and I am very pleased that the Governor has agreed to file it on behalf of the homeowners in Danvers," Representative Speliotis said. "Hopefully the Legislature will agree with Senator Berry and I and pass the bill as soon as possible so that those families that are eligible may be able to receive immediate property tax relief during this very difficult time."

The legislation would have no financial impact on the Commonwealth.