An Open Letter to the Reading Selectmen from the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce:
We are writing in strong opposition to the suggestion by a member of your Board to implement a split tax rate for the Town of Reading. A split tax rate does not provide any additional revenue for the town, but merely shifts who the taxes are coming from.
A split tax rate will hurt the very same people your Board members propose to protect, namely small business owners, local consumers and, especially, seniors, who primarily shop locally. Most of the business owners in the town have triple net leases, which means any tax increase will be passed directly into their rent, which in turn will be passed on to the consumers, many of whom are seniors in our Town and this will have the net effect of raising the prices of local goods and services.
One of the primary issues facing Reading is the fact that commercial property values have not increased at the same rate as residential properties, thus increasing the disparity between the Town’s commercial and residential tax base. Raising commercial tax rates will only exacerbate this problem and is a short-sighted approach.
The Chamber strongly encourages your efforts to stimulate our commercial property values, as this is an approach which will alleviate the problem. The increased SMART Growth District is a great step forward as it provides property owners more options and flexibility. The Chamber is committed to growing the commercial base, and together we can create strategies to increase quantity of commercial properties in town as well as their values. This would result in the tax burden being split more evenly between the residential and commercial tax bases.
The commercial property owners do not vote or send kids to the schools. The commercial property owners also must pay for trash disposal or recycling. As a town, we need to think long term as we all know the missed commercial opportunities in the past, specifically the Addison Wesley property.
Growing the commercial property base is an effort we support and look forward to collaborating with the Town of Reading to achieve this goal.
Very truly yours,
Andrew J. Schultz, President
And on Behalf of the Board of Directors of the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce