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To the Editor,
This letter is in response to a rebuttal letter by Casey Moulton. https://thereadingpost.com/2023/03/31/lte-consideration-for-the-impact-on-small-businesses/ The original tax letter she unsuccessfully tries to refute is this, submitted by a group of concerned taxpayers. https://thereadingpost.com/2023/03/29/lte-vote-for-karen-herrick-for-fair-and-sustainable-taxes-for-residents/
Ms. Moulton’s argument for skewing the tax policy in favor of businesses, almost entirely, is that she wants small businesses to continue to support local organizations like youth sports clubs when those clubs hit up businesses for donations. Ms. Moulton writes, “I have been involved in a lot of fundraising over the years for various organizations, and I have never had a business say ‘no’ when asked for a donation.” This is the type of quid pro quo anecdote that Ms. Moulton substitutes for data, and believes the Select Board should base the Town’s tax policy on. Ridiculous.
Ms. Moulton is accurate that the letter she is rebutting only mentions Home Depot, and no other businesses. However, the original letter draws on the presentation by Town Assessor Victor Santaniello, and references very important facts. The original letter compares the average residential tax value with the median commercial tax value. As explained in his presentation, Santaniello compares average residential property values with median commercial property values because of the wide range of commercial property values in Reading.
In his report to the Select Board (October 2022), Santaniello states that the 2022 average single-family tax bill was $9,366.00, on an average single-family home value of $702,646.00. In 2022, the median value of a commercial property was $768,200.00 and the taxes paid on a property of that value was $10,409.00. So, no one is really talking about Home Depot here. These two values are not that far apart. Santaniello stated that for 2023, the median commercial value is $792,000.00.
Yet Select Board members Carlo Bacci and Chris Haley voted for a tax rate policy that would have LOWERED the 2023 tax bill on that $792K commercial property to $10,161, a decrease of $248.00. This is the Bacci/Haley/Murphy tax plan to support small businesses: lower their tax bill and have residents subsidize their taxes. Did your tax bill go down? Mine did not. Bacci and Haley voted for a $350.00 increase to the tax bill for the average single-family property. That’s just crazy. Luckily Bacci and Haley were in the minority on that vote.
Price increases have effected us all, residents and businesses alike. I am grateful that Select Board Vice Chair Karen Herrick voted in the majority with Select Board Chair Mark Dockser, and member Jackie McCarthy, to set a more fair tax rate policy for all taxpayers. In the end, the median commercial tax bill went up $53.00, while the average single-family tax bill went up $335.00, still a break for commercial property owners. Bacci and Haley will continue to vote to lower taxes for business owners like themselves, without fully understanding how difficult it is for some residents to pay their tax bill, heat their homes, or feed their kids. We all need to pay our fair share, but residents should not be subsidizing businesses. Our neighboring towns do not do this.
This is what the Post wrote:
Read Moulton’s self-serving letter very carefully. She writes that businesses deserve tax cuts so they can donate to her causes, and she seems to think this is what it means to support local businesses.
I support small businesses because I want a thriving downtown. I shop local. The most important actions we can take as individuals, to support local businesses, is to purchase their goods and services. This is how local businesses thrive. Could I find the same item cheaper on Amazon? Probably, but I value the services I receive when I am in a downtown business, and I am willing to pay for that. I love our restaurants, and I am eating Pad Thai from Bangkok Spice as I write this. My favorite. I support local businesses because I appreciate what they offer, and I do understand the challenges local business owners face. Moulton’s attitude is really all about her and her causes, and not really about a thriving downtown. Please vote to pay higher taxes so that when I ask the local pizza shop for a donation for my kid’s play they give me $50 is not a reasonable tax policy or an integrity-filled way to support local businesses.
My single vote for Select Board will go to Karen Herrick, who believes in a fair tax policy and a Reading for everyone. For more info, please go to www.voteKarenHerrick.com, and please vote for Herrick to continue her over two decades of municipal volunteer work at the highest level.
Angela F. Binda
Town Meeting member, precinct 5