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Select Board settles on single tax rate for next fiscal year

Date: 11/24/2008

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW The Select Board voted 4 -1 to keep a tax classification factor of 1 -- a single tax rate -- at their Nov. 17 meeting. The tax rate for fiscal year 2009 will be $17.11 for every $1,000 of full and fair cash valuation.

This is a 15 cent, or less than one percent, increase over the tax rate of the last fiscal year.

Paul Santaniello, chair of the Select Board, was the lone vote against the single tax rate.

"The reason we don't have a split tax rate is because 'we don't have enough commercial space to make a significant impact on the residential side,'" he stated, "but what is significant? Is it 10 percent?"

Santaniello has been voting against a single tax rate since he joined the Select Board.

Robert Leclair, the town's assistant assessor, said there are 100 commercial parcels in town, 64 of which are personal property.

"Out of those 100 business parcels, there are some mom and pop stores, some doctors," Santaniello said, "but the majority are large chain stores that can handle more taxes. Even if it's a minimal tax break to the residents, it's a tax break they need."

He proposed a factor of 1.05 for commercial property and acknowledged it would not cause a large drop in residential tax rates.

"It's not going to solve the problem of a $300, $400, $500 break on taxes, but a nickel break is a nickel," Santaniello said. "Prices [of items in the businesses] keep rising but that has nothing to do with the property tax we're charging."

He added that his goal in voting no was not to "kill the business" in town but to give residents "a little break."