Bristol moves forward with business-friendly tax exemption

By Kristen Ray
Posted 9/5/19

In a move geared toward increasing efficiency and elevating Bristol’s status as a business-friendly community, the town council voted during its regular meeting last Wednesday, Aug. 28, to put …

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Bristol moves forward with business-friendly tax exemption

Posted

In a move geared toward increasing efficiency and elevating Bristol’s status as a business-friendly community, the town council voted during its regular meeting last Wednesday, Aug. 28, to put a $10,000 tangible tax exemption plan before state legislators for final approval.

After the topic arose during an Aug. 7 meeting, economic development coordinator Chris Vitale and tax assessor Michelle DiMeo returned last week armed with updated information and strategies for implementation — one being a minimum reporting threshold, the other an across-the-board exemption. Should Bristol set its bar at $10,000, they said, that would mean that 394 businesses — 58 percent of all in town — would meet the criteria for an exemption, falling at or below that total assessed value.

As Councilor Tim Sweeney had pointed out at the previous meeting, however, that money would ultimately have to be made up from somewhere. After they ran the numbers, town officials determined the $10,000 exemption would forfeit about $17,900 from the town’s tax collections. Town Administrator Steve Contente felt it was worth it to allow shop owners to refocus their time and resources back into their small businesses, not on struggling through paperwork.

“It’s important to have our workers in town do work, rather than paperwork,” he said.

Councilor Aaron Ley, however, wondered if by pursuing the exemption, the town was missing out on other opportunities to support small businesses. By splitting the commercial and residential tax rates, he argued, they might actually be able to make more of an impact, directing those savings toward marketing efforts or offering different services.

“I think there were still some options that were left out,” Mr. Ley said.

With Bristol already boasting one of the lowest tax rates in the state, though, it was not an idea that the rest of the council was as willing to explore. In their view, by becoming one of just a few municipalities to even offer a tangible tax exemption, Bristol could set itself apart from the majority of its peers.

“It puts us on the edge, makes a little different and distinct,” said Mr. Sweeney.

They voted 4 to 1 in favor — Mr. Ley being the only dissenting vote — of moving forward a $10,000 tangible tax exemption proposal, aiming to have it before state legislators before their spring session. Should it be approved, it would take effect for businesses in December of 2020.

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