STOCKBRIDGE — Down with the proposed residential tax exemption that would raise property taxes for part-time residents while lowering them for most full-time homeowners.
That was the message sent to town leaders on Thursday in a petition signed by 277 full- and part-time residents. The document was circulated by the Part-Time Resident Taxpayers group.
“This petition speaks to the level of opposition that exists toward this measure,” the document states. “And in a town where 112 people voted to approve the town budget in 2022, 277 signatures says a lot about the energy working to oppose this measure.”
The petition was delivered to Select Board Chairman Patrick White, a key proponent of the exemption proposal, and to board members Ernest “Chuck” Cardillo and Jamie Minacci, as well as to Town Administrator Michael Canales.
“Every one of the people who signed this petition are your constituents regardless of whether or not they are allowed to elect you to your seat,” the petition states. “For some of them their time here is limited in number of days, but for all them, their participation is mighty. Each one of these residents contributes to the rich fabric of this community in incalculable ways.”
The document pointed out that besides spending on dining and shopping, the seasonal residents volunteer, sit on boards and contribute to the public library and the Laurel Hill Association.
“They donate both time and money to support the area’s cultural institutions — not just Tanglewood, but also the Berkshire [Theatre Group], Chesterwood, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Berkshire Botanical Garden, and so many others beyond our town’s borders. We all care about this town.”
The petition states that it’s a “work in progress,” with more people expected to sign before a possible Select Board vote on the proposed residential tax exemption at the annual tax classification hearing in late October.
“Every signature on this petition carries equal weight, or so it should,” the document stated. “Because, until you divide us into classes — saying one group should bear a disproportionate burden in favor of the other — we stand together.”
Our Opinion: Stockbridge officials should shed more light, less heat on residential tax exemption debate
The petition asserted that more opponents will say: “No, we do not want this in our town. We can do better. We can find other ways to help those in need.”
Addressing the Select Board, the petitioners wrote: “While we send 277 votes, it is only your three votes that matter. Please use them with care.”
Detailing their objections, the document asserts that the tax exemption plan is inefficient, divisive and would “place an unfair tax burden on existing owners.” The signers also contend that the proposal is not targeted to address income inequality and is “outside the mainstream.”
“Better (and more targeted) alternatives for tax relief exist and should be explored,” the petition emphasized. “We feel this measure is too broad, is poorly considered, and doesn't accomplish the goals it sets out to achieve in a manner that serves the best interests of the town as a whole.”
The document shared with The Eagle on Thursday afternoon was signed: “Respectfully, Stockbridge Residents Opposed to the Residential Tax Exemption.”