Under the headline, “Newton Restaurants Bouncing Back,” Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller published the chart below in her email newsletter yesterday.
The graph tracks revenue received by the city though the 0.75% excise tax on sales of restaurant meals.
And as you can see, things do look pretty bouncy.
“These local taxes give us a clear indication of the health of our restaurants,” Fuller wrote, suggesting “Newton’s restaurants are on the rebound after a devastating drop in customers in FY2021” with revenues rebounding to nearly to pre-pandemic levels.
The mayor, a Harvard MBA, is partly right. FY 2022, which ended in June, looks better than FY 2021
But gross revenues alone do not tell the full story about the health of our hospitality sector.
So, while a near-return to pre-COVID tax collections is great for the city's piggy bank, it's far from a "complete rebound" for these businesses.
At best, it suggests they're bringing in the same dollars at a much higher cost.
Watertown businesses in line to get soaked
Commercial businesses in Watertown are being asked to shoulder the lion’s share of rising water and sewer costs through a restructuring of the city’s rate structure.
Under the plan, the city is adding a new fourth billing tier which “moves the cost of the water and sewer enterprise funds from smaller consumers of water -- about 75 percent of residents -- to bigger users, including large businesses, which results in lower increases for most residents,” Council Vice President Vincent Piccirilli tells the Watertown News.
The restructuring aims to absorb much of a 47 percent increase in the cost of purchasing water from the MWRA and a 60 percent increase in the cost of treating sewage.
“It pushes it to commercial businesses," Piccirilli said (while seeming to sound little too gleeful, if you ask me).
"They are going to be paying more, but they have the ability to pass the cost on to their customers, where, say, a retired person living at home alone does not,” he added.
Which is swell, I suppose, unless those residents are actually customers of those same businesses.
Meanwhile, the BA.5 subvariant is spreading rapidly nationwide and the COVID reinfection club seems to be growing (it got me), increasing infections and hospitalizations (state numbers here). And that doesn't include everyone who tests positive but never reports it.
Perfect weather is forecast for Wellesley Square's July Jubilation tomorrow (Saturday) from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Family-friendly activities, entertainment and special merchant sales will be spread out on Central, Church and Washington streets and surrounding businesses. Details
Four chamber member restaurants -- Baramor, Davios North Italian Steak House, Smith & Wollensky and Shake Shack -- have made the finals in Boston Magazine’s Battle of the Burger. Vote for your favorite here.
The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts is looking to hear from minority-owned businesses. The survey will be used to determine exactly what kind of programs and policies small businesses, especially minority-owned, require.
If you’ve been considering acquiring an electric car for your business, or yourself, check out this super informative video presentation on the topic presented for the chamber by Green Energy Consumers Alliance.
'Wellesley gadfly’ found guilty of extortion
Infamous meeting interloper Ronald Alexander was convicted last week of attempting to extort two members of Wellesley's Select Board.
The conviction earned the Wellesley resident three years of probation; a $1,500 fine; and orders to complete treatment for anger management, submit to a mental health evaluation; and stay away from the two officials.
It was just the latest in a long string of scrapes between town officials, employees, residents and Alexander who, CommonWealth Magazine once wrote, has a “remarkable ability to piss people off."
Earlier complaints include charges of harassing a Wellesley school official (he later apologized) and for filing of so many public record complaints that Attorney General Maura Healey “took the unheard of step of refusing to process the overwhelming majority of them and daring him to sue her if he doesn’t like it,” wrote Colman M. Herman back in 2019.
In Wellesley alone, officials reported spending nearly $75,000 on various outside lawyers in 2016 and 2017 to respond to his public record requests and appeals.
That's when Alexander reportedly threatened to file criminal charges against Select Board members Lise Olney and Elizabeth Sullivan-Woods if they failed to agree to “ensure the resignation or withdrawal from re-election of several town officials, and affect the termination of town counsel,” Herman reported for CommonWealththis week.
If Alexander violates his terms of probation, he could be jailed for six months.