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Split over split tax

Five years ago, the Greenfield Town Council had plenty of discussions about a split tax rate. At the time, the outcome was a decision to keep a single tax rate for businesses and residents.

Plenty has happened since then ... changes have included the business landscape, the community’s financial picture and a new council makeup.

That’s probably why some councilors think the time is ripe to revisit the issue and push for a divided tax structure — one for business and one for residents.

As far as we’re concerned, one thing hasn’t changed over time — a split tax rate is wrong for Greenfield.

The reason we say this is that Greenfield continues to face many of the same fiscal constraints as it did five years ago. A split tax rate might make sense when a municipality’s tax base is solidly built on a wide and strong business community.

That’s not what was the case in Greenfield then, and that’s not what we have now.

Many small businesses are still walking a tight rope when it comes to their own finances. And some of the new businesses that have opened in town are not in a much better a position, no matter how splashy the storefront appearance.

And let’s remember that, while these businesses now pay the same tax rate, they don’t get trash pickup or other municipal services that are afforded residents.

In addition, another thing that hasn’t changed in the past half-decade is that the argument for a split tax rate will depend more on appeals regarding “fairness” and reducing the tax burden for residents than real numbers regarding how well businesses are doing in Greenfield or the growth of the tax base in town.

That was missing from the argument put forth by split tax rate proponents then and we dare say it will be missing from the talks now.

So here’s what we suggest to the Town Council: Make sure there are plenty of facts and figures that represent Greenfield in bringing up a split tax rate now. Anything else is just a waste of time.

And then reject the idea again.

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