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Mayor James J. Fiorentini
Pursues Millions in Sale of City-Acquired Properties* - January 26, 2004
City of Haverhill Massachusetts

Fulfilling a campaign promise to market and make available to the public city-owned, sellable property, Mayor James J. Fiorentini has submitted a home rule petition to the City Council that calls for expediting the sale of public land. In a letter addressed to Council members, Mayor Fiorentini reiterated that his administration is committed to taking whatever steps necessary to get through the extreme budget crisis facing the City. Fiorentini thanked the Council members for their support of his two recent proposals that have already saved the City hundreds of thousands of dollars and positioned the City to obtain even more money through his tax amnesty program passed Tuesday.

Haverhill. Massachusetts Mayor James J. Fiorentini
Haverhill, MA Mayor
James J. Fiorentini

The selling of these properties concerns unused and unneeded parcels of city land. Mayor Fiorentini wants to expedite the sale of these properties through widely advertised public auctions in an effort to bring in money needed to close the $4 million budget gap.

Mayor Fiorentini's home rule petition will effectuate two changes in state law to help the City speed up the sale of public property. The petition will first allow for the sale of any city owned property that the City Council feels should be sold at public auction. Under the current system, the City is only allowed to auction public property that has been obtained through tax title while property obtained through other means would require RFP's (request for proposals). In his letter to the City Council, the mayor stated "it is generally well accepted, and I believe strongly, that small parcels of land generate more money and the property is sold more quickly if done by auction."

The second change in the law would allow for numerous properties to be prominently advertised in bulk in one advertisement. The current law requires that prior to auctioning lands, small legal notices are to be printed in the newspaper. These duplicate advertisements, which contain the same verbiage and only different addresses, require significant costs in advertising even when dealing with the smallest parcel of land. Mayor Fiorentini's home rule petition would allow the City to do what real estate brokers normally do by permitting a large display advertising the properties.

Figures from the Treasurer's Office, the City Hall office that oversees the procurement and sale of these properties, there are roughly three hundreds sellable properties with a total assessed value in the millions of dollars range. The sale of even a handful of these properties can net the City millions of dollars when auctioned to the public. And this is Mayor Fiorentini's intent as his office fields daily requests for information on City owned properties.

If the Council accepts Mayor Fiorentini's home rule petition, the matter would then move to the Massachusetts State Legislature and become law with the approval of both houses of the Legislature and the signature of the Governor. Once the Mayor's home rule petition becomes law, the onus would be placed on the City Council to declare the land surplus and then an auction could be held.

"I am committed to seeing that everything possible is tried, without cutting essential services, to narrow this budget deficit. The City stands to earn significant money towards this budget deficit and we must consider all possibilities for saving and earning money when facing a budget deficit such as this one. I hope that my home rule petition will receive the endorsement of the City Councillors so that we can continue to address this enormous budget deficit," Mayor Fiorentini commented.

*Source: City of Haverhill, Massachusetts Web Site: www.ci.haverhill.ma.us 1-26-04

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