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To the Editor:

Newtown taxpayers need to be on the alert. The Economic Development Commission is advocating that apartment complexes constitute economic development and thus should receive a tax abatement, as much as a 50 percent reduction in the first year. They are asking the Board of Selectmen and our district legislators to reduce the taxes to be paid by the pending apartment complexes at Exits 9 and 10 and in Sandy Hook.

Let’s be clear: apartments are individual residences and will have school age children in the planned two- and three-bedroom units. Newtown taxpayers pay these education expenses, now averaging $14,000 per student. There is no reason for Newtown taxpayers to subsidize these apartment owners/renters. Reducing the taxes paid by these apartment complexes will result in less future tax revenue to Newtown. Less revenue will result in higher than necessary taxes for the rest of us.

Residential housing is not economic development. Each new residence increases municipal support costs and requires $14,000 per child in education expenditures. A share of these costs are paid for by every Newtown taxpayer. Apartment complexes should pay their fair share, not get tax abatements that the rest of us are paying for. We don’t call new single-family homes economic development, and we don’t subsidize their taxes either.

The Economic Development Commission needs to focus on commercial economic development and strategically give incentives to attract those enterprises that we want. We should not give these incentives automatically, but only when they accomplish our objectives. Commercial developments put far less pressure on municipal expenses and none on education expenses. They increase our tax base and hold down future taxes.

To borrow the first selectman’s often-used term, calling apartments economic development is “wrongheaded” and should be stopped in its tracks.

Say “no” to apartment tax incentives, say “no” to increased apartment builders profits, and tell apartment owners to pay their fair share like the rest of Newtown’s property owners.

Bruce Walczak
12 Glover Avenue, Newtown        June 21, 2017

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