I have read the letter by Peter Gallant on the May 3 editorial page, and I would suggest that he misunderstands the outcome of decreasing tax liabilities on built structures in the town of Lanesborough. As the director of a nonpartisan research foundation that performed the study for the citizen of Lanesborough interested in this program, it is quite clear that at least 90 percent of properties with buildings will save -- some quite substantially -- on their property taxes. This is especially true for homeowners and senior citizens struggling to make ends meet and pay their taxes. The plurality of the population is over 45 years of age, indicating that growth in the form of small business and young families is important for Lanesborough’s future.
Since 2005, the tax rate for property in Lanesborough has gone from $16.04 to $18.07. Lanesborough’s residential tax rate is 39th highest out of 350 towns in the commonwealth, yet its non-residential rate is 125th highest (at $18.07). These high rates on investment, small business and homes do not reflect growth during the real estate boom of the 2000s, but only the bust. Population is stagnant, and wage earners make up less of the town’s property owners.
Growth where zoned is what is needed, and removing the penalty on those who are already paying more than their fair share and providing incentives to settle in Lanesborough is the fair and just path forward. Would that more Berkshire County towns encourage growth to save themselves and spare our countryside from sprawl.
The study has been made public. The public ought to see it and see the facts.
The writer is executive director, Center for the Study of Economics.