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Bills will be going up in Worcester, Mass. following tax vote

May 23, 2012 6:41pm
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(NECN: Katelyn Tivnan, Worcester, Mass.) - It's been nearly 24 hours since a vote on the new tax rates in Worcester, Mass., but a lot of people are still buzzing about Tuesday night's city council meeting.

On the surface, the outcome looks good for businesses, but many bills will still be going up.

It was a tough decision by the Worcester City Council Tuesday night.

In a 6-5 vote, councilors decided to narrow the gap between Worcester's residential and commercial property tax rates.

“I think a balanced decision saying we need some relief to property owners but not to be burdensome on residential owners,” says city councilor Joe O’Brien.

This is the second year in a row the council has voted to ease the tax burden on commercial properties.

Both residents and business owners packed council chambers Tuesday.

Neither side wanted to see an increase in taxes.

“I’ve become a homeowner in Worcester recently myself and if you shift the burden onto those who can't afford it, they have no way to absorb the burden,” said one homeowner.

“I'm going to have to send notices to all my tenants and they're going to have to pay more rent and they can't afford to pay more rent,” said business and homeowner Mark Ruffo.

The council voted to raise the residential tax rate by 92 cents.

The commercial tax rate was lowered by $5.57.

But both sides will see higher tax bills moving forward.

On average, homeowners’ bills will increase by 56 dollars a year.

Commercial properties will go up 755 dollars annually.

The increase is due in part to a big jump in the assessed value of many commercial properties.

“As we lose business base and have lost business to surrounding communities it means ultimately residents will have to pay more,” said O’Brien.

He also says the council wants to keep businesses in Worcester.

O’Brien says no one wants to see their taxes go up but called the vote a sign of progress.

“There are choices to be made but it doesn't have to be one community against the other,” said Worcester homeowner. “It should be both groups working together to improve Worcester.”
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