Thursday, December 10, 2009
I am writing down some thoughts I have about an editorial, "Fighting For The People", I read this morning in my hometown newspaper the Chelsea Record. I am listed with a group of Councilors who the paper claimed "spearheaded" a campaign to to favor commercial interests over residential interests in regards to property taxes. The editorial goes on to say that taxes are too high on home owners and the editor asks "why would other councilors be willing to shift burdens at a time when every dollar counts for residential taxpayers?" Excuse me for not posting a link, the Chelsea Record has not updated it's website since right before Thanksgiving. I also tried to PDF and convert the story to an image but that did not work either.
First off I would like to address the measure itself. The debate was over the real estate shift, wheter or not to shift the tax to burden businesses more then residential units tax wise. The vote that is mentioned in the paper WAS NOT made on this. RATHER the vote was in regards to an amendment offered by Councilor Roy Avellaneda that would have scaled back the shift slightly (the measure he was trying to attach it to went for a full shift) but still would have allowed a rather large shift towards the business side. The amendment is what I voted for, I did NOT vote against the tax shift. Maybe I should say this again I voted FOR the tax shift. Without the amendment the average tax on residences would go down and businesses would go up substantially. With the amendment business taxes would still go up from the current year but residential taxes would have, on average, stayed the same.
I would also like to address my "spearheading" the amendment. As I stated another Councilor offered the amendment, I am not listed on it anywhere. I was not even informed of the amendment and only heard of it during debate when it was tossed into mix. I personally have never brought forward a measure without either knowing I had the votes to pass it or have tried to convince everyone but I am not here to critique the techniques of other Councilors. I did not see a Chelsea Record reporter that night, so I can see why there was an issue.
It should also be noted that we had just passed a Residential Tax exemption that gave people who live in their homes a decent sized tax discount (we also voted on a resolution to name this after a fellow Councilor.) Later in the night we also passed the local meals tax which placed a .075 percent tax on the purchase of any prepared food in the city. We were already pushing back taxes on home owners, we were shifting tax burden onto business AND we were putting an extra tax on the prepared food industry I think it is only fair that we compromise on something to help out the struggling businesses in the city. I would question the Councilors who voted against the local meals tax, for the residential tax exemptions, who say we can not cut education/safety or essential services. I do not understand how they intend to pay for all of that while cutting taxes for residential units.
We ask our public officials to make tough decisions all the time. I think it is only fair that when they make what is a difficult vote that we include a little context as well. I feel like I was portrayed as a crony for business in the city which I guess I am except for when I am not (when the Chelsea Record says that people like me who have opposed industrial and business proposals that would hurt local residents are anti business.)
I plan on writing an editorial for next weeks paper but I wanted to lay this out while it is still fresh on my mind. If you think I am wrong feel free to tell me.