Greenfield Town Council holds special meeting to address mayor’s vetoes on tax classifications

  • The Greenfield Town Hall Recorder File Photo/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

GREENFIELD — Town Council has taken the first step toward resolving a conundrum created by multiple votes on the Fiscal Year 2018 tax classification, including the creation of a split tax rate.

The council voted unanimously during a special meeting Tuesday not to override the mayor’s veto of its Nov. 15 vote to split the tax rate using a factor of 1.5 — letting the council’s Nov. 29 vote to split the tax rate using a factor of 1.0808 stand — at least temporarily.

Mayor William Martin had thought the Nov. 29 vote was also invalid, but the town attorney offered a differing opinion Tuesday. Martin will now have 10 days, beginning today, to veto the split tax rate, which would shift the tax burden from residential to all other classes of property — including commercial, industrial and personal — using a factor of 1.0808.

Martin said after Tuesday’s special meeting that he has not yet made a decision on whether to veto the vote.

Source of confusion

The confusion stemmed from the council’s original tax classification votes on Nov. 15, when it voted to split the tax rate using a factor of 1.5, adopt no residential exemption and adopt a small commercial exemption. The split tax and residential exemption votes were valid, but the vote on the small business exemption was worded incorrectly, making it unusable.

After the Nov. 15 meeting, the Town Clerk also discovered a mistake on the assessor’s public meeting notice, which contained the wrong date.

“Within the next couple of days it was brought to light that the date on the posting had a discrepancy. It was then brought to my attention that that made the votes null and void, which was why the motions were then placed on the Nov. 29 meeting,” Council President Brickett Allis said.

On Nov. 29, the council voted in favor of splitting the tax rate using a factor of 1.0808, tabled the vote on the residential exemption and voted against a small commercial exemption.

However, it was determined by town attorney Gordon Quinn that the Nov. 15 votes — which had been vetoed by the mayor — were actually valid. Martin had said he decided to veto the Nov. 15 votes because the public meeting notice contained the incorrect date. He also questioned whether all relevant information and data was made available to the council in time for the vote.

Quinn said the Nov. 29 votes were also valid, saying they could be considered amendments to the council’s original votes.

Tuesday’s vote

During Tuesday’s meeting, the council voted to override the mayor’s veto on the residential exemption, leaving no residential exemption in place.

“I believe (that) is everyone’s position, including the mayor’s position,” Council Vice President Isaac Mass said.

The council also voted unanimously against a motion to override the mayor’s vote on the small commercial exemption, leaving no commercial exemption in Greenfield.

There was also confusion over whether the council had to vote on four instead of three tax classifications. Allis said the fourth classification — open space — does not have to be voted on in Greenfield.

“I think it’s understood that not all the required votes have to be taken at one meeting, but they should all be taken before the end of the year,” Quinn added.

The mayor will also have 10 days, beginning today, to veto the vote against adopting a small business exemption. If he chooses not to veto, the tax classifications can be sent to the state Department of Revenue for certification, and tax bills will go out as soon as possible, according to Town Accountant Elizabeth Braccia.