Hartford’s small business owners gathered at the Capitol Tuesday to talk to lawmakers about the estimated 60 to 90 percent tax hike they will face as a result of last year’s property tax revaluation.
The situation was created when the legislature voted to phase in the results of the property revaluation for Hartford homeowners and phase out the 15 percent tax surcharge for corporations in the Capitol City.
The solution small business owners proposed was a moratorium on the results of the property tax revaluation for one year while a committee studies the unfair tax classification system it inadvertently created. Hartford’s City Council endorsed this approach at Monday’s council meeting.
Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, who attended the meeting Tuesday said the moratorium approach will be a tough sell.
Why? Because not all Hartford legislators agree on a moratorium approach.
Mayoral candidate and state Rep. Art Feltman and Rep. Ken Green are backing a proposal to have the city budget include tax rebates for small businesses. The reasoning is the state budget approves millions of dollars in property tax relief for the city, which local leaders could in turn use to ease the property tax burden on these 206 small businesses.
But small business owners like John Tornatore, who co-owns Gordon Bonetti Florist on Franklin Ave., said the moratorium is the only option. He said under Feltman and Green’s plan his business would only receive a $900 credit which “doesn’t make a dent” in the tax increase.
At worst fractured legislative support will lead to no tax relief for small businesses and at best a last minute compromise.
I. Charles Mathews, whose running for mayor against Mayor Eddie Perez, said he supports the one-year moratorium, but the question remains “Can we get the House to step up?” He said the city needs to be thinking about a plan B.
Matt Hennessey, Perez’s chief of staff, said Perez supports the one-year moratorium and will lobby the legislature to pass it through “reasoned analysis.”
But the less Perez is involved, the better the outcome may be for small businesses.
Remember last year when Perez threatened the legislature as it was trying to craft the phase-in of the revaluation?
The Hartford Courant reported on May 4, 2006 that “As talks were underway last week, Perez put out a release threatening to lay off teachers and police officers should the General Assembly fail to act before Wednesday’s deadline, ruffling feathers at the Capitol. Several lawmakers said the move made the process more difficult…State Rep. Cameron Staples, D-New Haven, co-chairman of the legislature’s tax writing committee, said that Perez’s ‘comments did not help,’ and credited the Hartford delegation with keeping the process moving, ‘despite the negative feelings generated by the mayor’s comments.’”
Click here to read more about the problem from our story on April’s budget hearing.