To City Manager and Council,
I'm concerned that the elected officials only care about short term elections and appeasing the majority of homeowners (voters) in Worcester, instead of paying attention to the long term prosperity of the City as a whole. By rubber stamping a dual tax rate ("lowest residential"), Worcester is losing not just tax revenue, but the multiplier effect of jobs, higher home values, and fiscal budget sustainability that small and large businesses create. Without jobs (provided by private business), how can individuals afford to buy homes with the bonus side effect of increasing home prices/equity.
I'm the president of the Osgood Bradley Building at 18 Grafton St. I'm sick of watching my tax rate increase, while my tenants (unable to afford increases in rent to offset the increase in tax), go out of business. My building is now 80% empty. My tax bill is about $50,000. This is ridiculous on a building that loses about $75,000 a year. I have no spare money for maintenance or upgrades. There are few companies looking to move to Worcester, when they get a better lease rate in other towns.
I'm starting to examine selling my building, and non-profits seem to be able to pay the most. I wonder if it is because they will save $50,000 a year in taxes. How many vacant buildings and non-profits (not paying property taxes) do you want in the city?
Yes - you have a revenue problem in the City of Worcester, but the current dual rates compounds the problem, and doesn't lead towards a sustainable solution. As a elected official, you often have tough choices.
I would recommend a stepped program towards a single rate, and paying for it through complete wage/salary freezes for city workers (no cola, raises, or steps!), until the single rate is fully adopted. Also - I'd recommend rather than needing political favors, and time spent filling out paperwork for TIF's, that across the board, for all commercial property, that any improvements made in 2010-2012 will NOT increase taxable value of the property for 20 years. This would immediately spur investment, and start to restore jobs and prosperity in the city.
Your decision today on the Tax Rate, will help make my decision to shut down my building, sell to a non-profit, or explore investing in the property to land new tenants and businesses.
President Osgood Bradley Building Corporation
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