Hours of conversation over bringing the tax rate split between business and residents closer together resulted in the Attleboro City Council's vote in favor to set the tax rate split at 1.425, which means higher taxes for residents. The decision came after the council held a public hearing to hear opinions from local residents and business owners Tuesday night.
A total of six ouncilors voted against a 1.45 rate, but voted in favor of a 1.425 split tax rate, which means a $105 tax increase for Attleboro homes with average values and a $782 increase for businesses of average value.
Attleboro City Assessor Stan Nacewicz had proposed a 1.40 rate, but Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman pushed for the 1.425 rate.
Attleboro City Councilors, residents and business owners debated the impact of a change in the split.
Councilors Kimberly Allard, Mark Cooper, Shannon Heagney, Walter Thibodeau, and Duff White Kim Allard voted to keep the rate the same at 1.45, which would have resulted in approximately $80 tax increase for the average homeowner and a $1,000 bump for the busines owner.
There were strong emotions from those who sat in the audience including Attleboro resident Laura Dolan who asked the council why North Attleboro was able to tighten the gap between business and residential rates and Attleboro could not.
That was a simple answer for the council: because they said yes to the Emerald Square Mall and Attleboro said no.
Dolan, a life-long resident of Attleboro, said she is proud to live in Attleboro, but cannot afford any additional increase in taxes. Dolan said her income hasn't increased to offset the increase everything else including healthcare, cost of living and other basic needs.
Shirley Horton, who has lived in Attleboro for 46 years, said she and her late husband grew up poor and worked hard to purchase a home in the city. Horton said she'd like to keep that home and said the business should absorb the increase, not residents.
"To the working people or the not working people and senior citizens it's a big difference," Horton said. "Eighty cents seems like nothing, multiplied by five cents it's dollars, dollars that people don't have. Businesses can downsize, they can cut costs."
Attleboro resident and business owner Ann Friedman said small businesses are already cutting costs and paying more for less. Friedman did not want the council or public to make it a business versus residential issue because she said it was not fair to do so.
Friedman, who owns, said she works 11 hour days not to get rich, but to make a living. She said her income is that of Mayor Kevin Dumas' raise, not salary.
In the last three years a total of 254 businesses have left Attleboro, Councilor Kirby said.
United Regional Chamber of Commerce President Jack Lank said a lower tax rate would send a strong message. The message? "That Attleboro wants to give businesses every opportunity to succeed here," he said. "Not a reason to leave or not a place to consider when starting a business or relocating."
"The Chamber considers the move to lower the commercial tax rate beneficial to Attleboro residents because when businesses locate and grow here, jobs for the city residents are the result."