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Split tax decision due

This week, the full Greenfield Town Council is scheduled to take up a vote on a split tax rate.

Mayor William Martin has let it be known that he will veto the measure if the council does approve a change that will create separate tax rates for residents and businesses. Then, should the 13-member council decide it wanted to push back, proponents of a split tax rate would have to come up with nine votes for an override.

We’re hoping that this issue doesn’t come to that.

Instead, we’d like to think that in weighing the pros and cons on this issue, the council realizes that splitting the tax rate does not make sense for Greenfield at this time.

In doing their homework leading up to the vote, the councilors should be looking at the existing economic picture and not just an ephemeral promise of “fairness.” They should be seeing that these are not financial boom times and that the profit margins for many stores and others that make up our business community are not as robust as one might think.

In addition, any return for residents would be short-lived at best. “It won’t be a drastic benefit to residents,” said Joseph Ruggeri in a recent Recorder story. The owner of Ruggeri Real Estate and three residential properties, Ruggeri, who sits on the Board of Assessors, also said, “it will be a drastic increase to businesses and building owners.” While undoubtedly there are many businesses that could weather the impact, there are some who might not be so fortunate at this time.

Beyond looking at the big picture, councilors should also be listening to the community. The effort to bring a split-tax rate to Greenfield is not coming from some great groundswell of support from homeowners, rather it is a councilor-driven plan using the same recycled arguments. Meanwhile, those opposed to the idea continue to be from many different segments of the community.

If the council wants to improve Greenfield’s economic health and ease the tax burden on homeowners, then it should be taking steps to strengthen and expand the business base.

In the meantime, the split tax rate should be rejected.

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