Small Businesses Say They Can't Afford Sharp Increases
May 22, 2007
By JEFFREY B. COHEN And DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writers
With hundreds of small businesses facing sharp tax increases, Hartford's city council has asked the state legislature for help.
Not for money, but for time.
On Monday, the council voted to ask the General Assembly for permission to delay the revaluation of city property - for two more years at most - so it can study a situation that many small-business owners say could force them to close.
If the legislature agrees, the council would also then reinstate on commercial properties a 15 percent surcharge long reviled by the business community.
Council President John Bazzano said he recognizes that while reinstating that surcharge would raise the eyebrows of the city's corporate community, it may be necessary to protect small-business owners.
"To have this tax burden rest on the small businesses of the city of Hartford - we just can't do it," Bazzano said.
The plea to the state legislature was approved, along with the city council's roughly $511 million budget - a reduction of $6.1 million from Mayor Eddie A. Perez's spending plan. City officials also said they were able to find $5 million in extra revenue enabling the council to lower Perez's proposed tax rate.
The council also agreed to pass an additional $10 million to $11 million of anticipated education cost-sharing money from the state to the board of education.
It's now up to Perez to veto or accept the council's changes to his recommended spending plan.
But just as significant as how the city plans to spend taxpayer money is how the city intends to collect it.
This year, Hartford's small businesses are feeling the tax crunch; some face tax bills three times higher than last year. But their situation has its roots in a battle waged a year ago that put the city's residential property owners in the same situation.
Last May, the scheduled revaluation of Hartford real estate promised significant tax increases for city homeowners.
Perez and Hartford's legislative delegation tried to find a way to ease their pain, while also eliminating the pre-existing and unpopular 15 percent surtax on commercial property. The business community sharply opposed any plan that put off the effects of revaluation.
As a compromise between the city and the corporate community, the legislature passed a law that allowed the city to phase in the effects of revaluation over five years while phasing out half of the 15 percent surcharge.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at