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Northampton BID has potential for “taxation without representation”

To the editor:

As a health care provider with offices on the second and third floors of two downtown buildings, I have seen no usefulness to the Business Improvement District (BID) for my kind of business. My clientele does not come because the town is pleasant; they come hoping I can help them. I opted out of the BID as did about 60 percent of all property owners in the district.

There are 499 properties in the BID, of which 85 became fee-paying members. There are about 115 other members (residences, nonprofits, governmental) who vote, but do not pay fees.

Now a new amendment to BID law removes the opt-out clause that made the BID, at all palatable in the first place. If a simple majority of 100 registered members vote to extend the life of the BID all 499 properties will be forced to be members — 299 properties will become forced members.

This means the minority of property owners currently within the BID could override the will of the majority of owners in the district who never wanted to be included.

The BID is eager to take in over $500,000 of additional revenues through its assessment of fees (at the rate of $500 per $100,000 of assessed valuation) on the properties newly forced to join the BID.

However, this cannot be right, fair or what the city wanted. If those of us who opted out knew the opt-out would be eliminated, we would have fought much harder against it.

As a forced-in member, I would be required to pay an additional tax on my second and third floor health care offices of $2,611 per year. That is a tax increase of about 45 percent for services of no use to me. And I cannot pass through the fee to my clientele. If I refuse, the BID has the power to put a lien my properties. I ask current BID members to vote not to extend the life of the BID. I ask the city to do its part to avoid the widespread divisiveness and bitterness that will result when taxation without representation takes effect.

Frank Marotta

Northampton

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