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Springfield Chamber Opposes Recommended Tax Rates in City

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, announced Wednesday that it has reviewed the city of Springfield’s proposal for property taxes for fiscal year 2015 and has issued a position paper opposing the rates recommended.

“The Springfield Chamber, on behalf of its more than 500 members, has consistently advocated for a reduction in the heavy tax burden that has been shifted from the residential community onto the backs of the business community,” said chamber President Jeffrey Ciuffreda. “While the recommended tax rates being proposed by Mayor [Domenic] Sarno reduces both classes of rates, his proposal actually increases the burden again onto the business community, and that is something the chamber cannot accept.”

The chamber has a stated, long-term goal of reducing the heavy burden of taxes that has been shifted onto the business community, especially over the past 10 years, to a level that is more reasonable and one that has been used in past years, it said in its position paper. “In 2004, the business classification of properties paid 12.93% more in property taxes than its percentage of overall value. The chamber refers to this increased business-tax burden as the ‘gap.’ Businesses made up 26.86% of all property values in Springfield, yet paid 39.79% of all the property taxes, and used less municipal services. The gap provides for the business community to pay additional taxes so that the residential tax rate can remain lower. Since 2004, the chamber has consistently advocated for a reduction in the gap. Despite these efforts, that gap has seen a steady increase, to its current level of 15.37%.”

Ciuffreda said that, while the chamber firmly believes that reducing this burden will spur economic growth, it recognizes the current economic fragility of the city and, for fiscal year 2015, is simply recommending a freeze in the extra level of taxes borne by the business sector. The chamber recommends that the difference between what the business community pays and the percent of value it comprises overall remain at the current level of 15.37%.

Under the chamber’s recommendation, all classes of property taxes would be reduced (to $19.68 for residents and $38.72 for businesses), but, more importantly, the gap between the business tax rate and the residential tax rate would remain level. Under the mayor’s proposal, the tax rates would be reduced, but the business sector would pay an even higher rate of taxes, increasing the gap to 15.57%, again shifting more of an already burdensome tax level onto the business community, the chamber argues.

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