June 7, 2013

Czenczelewski: Budget hits business too hard

City Councilor Derek Czenczelewski sent this along this morning to explain his opposition to the city budget approved yesterday:

Why I Voted "No"
At the June 6 Joint Board budget adoption meeting, I voted against the new City budget. I did so for a few reasons that I would like to outline.
First let me begin by saying that despite my opposition to this budget, I am happy to hear that 85 percent of Bristol residential properties will see a tax decrease. At a time when our citizens continue to struggle to make ends meet, this should help provide a small boost to our wallets. Additionally, this budget takes care of some much needed capital expenditures, some of which I can support.
However, while the vast majority of residential property owners will be able to breathe a small sigh of relief, our business community is about to get walloped.
This is mainly due to revaluation, which showed significantly larger decreases in residential property values than in business property values. Admittedly, the Joint Board has no direct control over this. However, increasing the budget by around $4 million this year after last year’s budget increase only serves to exacerbate this problem.
According to the information we received, 82 percent of commercial properties in Bristol will see a tax increase, with the average increase coming in around 17 percent ($5100). 77 percent of industrial properties in Bristol will see a tax increase, with the average increase around 11 percent ($4500). 66 percent of apartment properties (5 family dwellings or larger) will see taxes increase by an average of approximately 20 percent ($7200). These are all increases that will make their way down to consumers and renters. These are increases that will prevent property investment and improvements. In a worse scenario, these could lead to job losses. In the worst scenario, these increases could lead to businesses closing up shop or leaving the City.
Adding to these woes is the fact that the majority of these business properties actually lost value. 82 percent of industrial, 78 percent of commercial and 49 percent of apartment properties that will see tax increases actually lost value on their property.
Some of our largest business property owners will see their taxes increase by well over $100,000. These increases will come at a time when Connecticut’s economy continues to flounder. According to a June 6 Hartford Courant article by Mara Lee, “Connecticut was dead last in economic growth last year, the only state in the nation where the combined total of goods, services and salaries paid within the state shrank compared to 2011.”
This is not being “business friendly” and will not aid in our efforts to grow the grand list by attracting new businesses and industry to Bristol. Even further, we cannot afford to lose more local businesses, or jobs, in such a fragile State economy. These are our local businesses being impacted, owned by Bristol citizens who employ Bristol citizens.  
Last year’s budget was balanced by “borrowing” $3 million from the health contingency account, in addition to raising taxes. At the time, most acknowledged this was essentially “kicking the can down the road.” This year’s budget was balanced by raising taxes and utilizing a $2.3 million windfall from the State for reimbursed expenses stemming from the high school renovations completed years ago. In my opinion, the can has been kicked down the road once again, and that is why I could not support this budget.  
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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