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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Tremblay "Guilty" On Tax Issue

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, November 02, 2005

North Adams Mayor John Barrett III
North Adams – Tensions between city Mayor John Barrett III and City Council candidate Christopher Tremblay appear to be escalating as a Nov. 8 city election draws nearer.

Tremblay is among 15 candidates –eight incumbent councilors and seven challengers- who are vying for nine two-year city council terms.

Barrett is being challenged by city resident Walter L. Smith Jr..

Tremblay is in favor of increasing the residential property tax rate, Barrett said during a Nov. 1 telephone interview about Tremblay’s purchase of benches that were placed on Main and Eagle streets yesterday.[see related story on “Community News” page]

“He is the only candidate advocating for higher taxes for residential [property owners],” Barrett said. “He is the only person who is promoting himself as he is advocating a shift of burden to the residential tax payer.”

Barrett said that Tremblay indicated a desire to place a higher tax burden on city homeowners during an Oct. 26 candidate debate sponsored by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Barrett has often cited the city’s comparatively low residential property tax rate and has frequently pointed to the rate as a result of careful fiscal planning and a desire to keep the city affordable for all its residents. The city's residential property tax rate is especially beneficial for working families and retired homeowners living on fixed incomes, he has said.

Speaking on Nov. 1, Tremblay said that he is interested in a more equitable commercial property tax rate. Tremblay owns the Tremblay Electric firm and the Berkshires Best shop, both located at the Windsor Mill on Union Street, and also owns two Harris Street residential properties in the city. Tremblay lives in one house and rents out the other residential property.


City Council candidate Christopher Tremblay
The city’s commercial property tax rate is over 50 percent higher than the residential property tax rate, Tremblay said. According to a chart posted at a Berkshire Realtors Internet web site, the city’s 2005 commercial property tax rate is $28.78 per $1,000 of assessed value, while the residential property tax rate is $12.22 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The city’s current commercial property tax rate is the highest in the Berkshire region, Tremblay said.

“And the commercial rate is applied whether the space is vacant or occupied,” he said.

Tremblay said that as a residential property owner, he would not be opposed to paying an additional $100 to $150 per year in residential property taxes in return for a reduced commercial property tax rate.

New businesses that may be considering the city as a business site are likely to investigate both property tax rates, and compare the dual rates with property tax rates in other communities, Tremblay said. He noted that Pittsfield’s commercial property tax rate is $25.05 per $1,000 of assessed value while the residential property tax rate is $15.65 per $1,000 in assessed value. Pittsfield is a larger city than North Adams, he noted.

Tremblay said that the city’s commercial property tax rates could be costing the city business opportunities.

“I own two houses and two businesses and I wouldn’t mind paying a little more [in residential property taxes] if that would help bring business to North Adams,” Tremblay said. “I am not advocating for a higher residential tax rate, I am supporting a more equitable sharing and a more equitable commercial tax rate. I am interested in bringing business to the city. If that means advocating for a lower commercial property tax rate, I’m guilty.”

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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