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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Candidate Speaks Out

Here is Greater Lowell Technical High School Committee Candidate Fred Bahou saying that the City Council should vote in the incremental increase in the tax on meals.

Aside from the fact that I agree with him on this issue, I like the fact that he is forthright on it as he goes before the voters this November.

The point is, the Lowell City Budget is $295 million dollars and as accepted by the City Council a few weeks ago, included an estimated $450,000 from the 0.75% surtax on meals.  That is 74¢ on every $100 spent at a restaurant.  Maybe it is OK with me since when my wife and I go out to dinner we spend way less than $100.  I am thinking, without drinks, this is less than 50¢ per visit to your favorite restaurant.

But, the point is, we have to be responsible and if we budget to include this $450,000 from the tax, then we need to raise the money—or cut services.  That is, or should be, the Republican Party way.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Well, the City Council did vote to defend one personnel slot.


Craig H said...

Having just returned from Nashua and spending several hundred sales-tax-free dollars on various things, I'm extremely sensitive to the argument that raising local taxes has a deleterious effect on local business. It does. Joe Mondonca and others running for City Council with an eye towards making Lowell more attractive for commercial enterprises are swimming upstream against a very powerful current, and he and others are right that our current local property tax bills, among many other costs we bear, directly reflect the portion of our tax burden not shouldered by businesses who cannot afford to be here.

Until someone can articulate the compelling offsetting benefit/reason/value why restaurants should become the focus of rising taxation, other than, "the money has to come from somewhere", it's not fair or right that we should arbitrarily call them out for increase in their liability. Or, put another way, if we're not eager to dip into our own pocket to pay for something, like all those things among our almost $300M city budget, then it's really not worth spending for.

I say let's put the onus back on the City Council to come up with more than just Andy Sheehan's salary to cut from this budget, which is, I might add, already hugely out of balance with what we put into it, given all the state aid we receive for our schools and other purposes.

Renee said...

Downtown is too fragile to be taxed. I mentioned something on my blog to give residents of Lowell a limited numbers of free parking passes in the garages to utilize downtown more.

C R Krieger said...

I take Kad Barma point about the need for folks to engage, but given that things are where they are, I would like to see a "fish or cut bait" vote.

Renee's point about things being too fragile down town is an interesting one.  I am not sure I see it being as dire as she says, for restaurants, although for some other businesses, perhaps so.  I would like to see more variety down town with regard to the types of things available for sale.  My favorite example is that I would like to see "Soft Pro," which used to be down in Burlington, in down town Lowell.  A lot of the stores just don't appeal to me..

I do like Renee's idea about giving a free one day parking pass to residents to get them to go down town.  She says once a week. I am more of a once a fortnight kind of person.  My process question is, how do they get delivered/picked up?

Regards  —  Cliff

Renee said...

Cliff, I was thinking as a few examples such as when we fill out a city census, with payment of their excise tax on their automobile. Something that would not discriminate between renters or owners.

We are all residents of Lowell, there should a fringe benefit to living here. If we are to think of downtown as a special asset to the community, we should be treating it that way.

C R Krieger said...

I like the idea of a coupon book with the payment of one's automobile tax to the city.

Regards  —  Cliff