December 11, 2018

Clinton lowers business tax rate

Photo | Matt Wright
The Strand Theatre, on High Street in Clinton

Clinton town officials have taken another step toward lessening the town's tax burden on commercial and industrial properties with the new year's tax rates.

The Clinton Board of Selectmen voted Dec. 5 to slightly reduce the town's so-called tax shift, the difference between tax rates for residential properties and those for commercial & industrial properties.

Selectmen argued the town should reduce the tax burden on businesses as a way to draw more commerce to a town that isn't as natural of a draw without direct highway access.

"We have to be creative. We have to be competitive," Selectman Marc Iacobucci said.

Clinton is one of a relatively small number of Central Massachusetts communities taxing properties at different rates depending on whether they are residential, commercial or industrial. Other cities and towns with split tax rates include Auburn, Ayer, Berlin, Fitchburg, Framingham and Worcester.

Clinton selectmen voted to set the new rate at $15.93 per $1,000 in valuation for residential properties, and $28.20 for commercial and industrial properties. This year's rates were $16.98 for residential properties and $30.73 for commercial and industrial.

Those rates put the bill for an average residential property, assessed at $266,000, at $4,278, down around $30 from this year. For the average commercial or industrial property, the typical bill will go down $8.

A push for a single tax rate isn't supported by all. Selectman David Sargent said raising rates for residential properties to get closer to or match the commercial and industrial rate would be unwarranted, unjustified and unfair.

Sargent voted against the new rate and said it should have been unchanged until town residents could weigh in on what they wanted the rates to be.

Selectmen in favor of lessening the burden on businesses said a flat tax rate would be more fair for all. Sean Kerrigan said Clinton's tax rate was one thing, along with permitting, which the town can control, unlike its lack of direct highway access or public transportation.

Chairman Michael Dziokonski said he didn't support a single-tax rate but found the current business rate excessive.

The board heard public input before its vote, including from the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. The chamber's president and CEO, Roy Nascimento, said a single-tax rate is one of the best actions a communities can take to show they are business friendly.

For many businesses, Nascimento said, "these taxes can prove a serious hardship."

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