Dedham tax assessors and selectmen met with local small business owners Tuesday morning to discuss how the tax rates are set and to begin a dialogue with local business owners.
Director of Assessing John Duffy said in the beginning of the meeting that the assessors “do not raise or lower taxes,” they could only make recommendations to the selectmen and grant exceptions.
But the abatement period to challenge assessments sent out in January expired in February.
“We have no problem with making adjustments in your favor,” he said.
The most common reasons for abatements include inaccurate age of building, square footage, vacant rental space, renovation, errors in transcription of data from paper to computer, or building’s construction material.
Property taxes account for 78 percent of the town’s revenue, Town Administrator William Keegan said.
However, with the adoption of a local meals and hotel tax, Dedham is open to alternative means to generate revenue, said selectman Sarah MacDonald. Other means include searching for appropriate grants and cost-savings through reducing energy consumption.
But the tax rate is still hurting small business owners.
Russell Stamm, who owns an accounting business on Bryant Street, said commercial taxes have increased 40 percent in the past four years.
“It’s crippling for a small business,” he said.
Stamm suggested splitting the commercial tax rate between big and small business, but Keegan said the town couldn’t do that and would require special legislation.
Besides a raising tax rate, selectman Paul Reynolds, who also is co-owner of The Blue Bunny in Dedham Square, said that Legacy Place has dropped his business to 40 percent of what it was.
“The eco-system has changed,” he said.
Reynolds suggested the formation of a committee that would help communication between local government and business owners.
Paul Cocci, a local landlord, said he believes that the town’s spending is out of hand, and if it is reigned in, costs will come down.
“The town has to do something with their spending,” he said.
But any cut in spending means a cut in services and programs, MacDonald said.