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These increases won’t magically vaporize into the cosmos

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These increases won’t magically vaporize into the cosmos

A fellow who owns several parcels in Watertown -- including properties he rents to a burger joint, a tire shop and other small businesses -- called me yesterday.

It was Nov. 1st. His quarterly taxes were due. So, just as many other taxpayers do at the last possible minute, he headed to City Hall with his checkbook.

That’s when they hit him with the bad news.

When he returns Feb. 1 to pay his next round of bills, he can expect a 17% increase; the result of a just-approved tax shift that will lower taxes for residents and raise them commensurately on commercial properties.

Those increases won’t magically vaporize into the cosmos.

Mostly they’ll be passed along to business owners, who are already battling to keep up with record inflation, soaring utility and insurance rates, and higher wages. Plus, heaven forbid you need a loan to fix a broken piece of equipment, crazy high borrowing costs.

And let’s remember, landlords are businesses too. They’re combating the same economic headwinds.

But this isn’t just a Watertown story 

Did you see the headline on Monday's Wall Street Journal editorial?

Yes, Beacon Hill recently enacted a much-needed package of tax cuts (short term capital gain cuts; raising the floor on estates payments; and overhauling how taxes owed by multi-state companies are calculated) that should be beneficial to businesses and our economy.

Still, last week we learned that Massachusetts fell further than any other state in the latest State Business Tax Climate Index report.

We’re now ranked 46th out of 50 states in tax competitiveness, due largely to the adoption of the Millionaires’ Tax. On the other hand, we’re regularly in the top-10 in per capital in state and local spending.

Since 2021, 25 states have cut individuals tax rates. Thirteen states reduced corporate tax rates. Two states cut sales taxes.

But here we are. We still need to make tremendous investments in fixing our transportation infrastructure; addressing climate challenges; providing affordable child care; upgrading workforce skills; and building our way out of a debilitating housing crisis.

Don’t think for a minute that other states and regions aren’t using our high taxes, our traffic, and all our other challenges against us when they make their case for why employers should move there instead of here.

Village Bank expands into the Watch City 

The Village Bank is expanding into Waltham.

The move represents the bank's first new location since 2019 and its first expansion outside of a long-held footprint in Newton and Wayland.

Construction is ongoing at 251 Moody Street (the Cronin’s Landing building) with an expected opening before the end of the year.

"We cherish the relationships we have built through the years with customers who live and work in Waltham," said Village Bank President & CEO Joe De Vito. "Now we’re pleased to bring the Village Bank experience directly [to Waltham]."

Needham joins other chamber communities in adopting specialized building code 

Needham Town Meeting voted this week to adopt Massachusetts's new Specialized Stretch Code which requires new construction to be fully wired and insulated as a net-zero building but does not ban fossil-fuel installations.

The new standard will be effective July 1, 2024. Watertown, Newton and Wellesley have already opted-in to adopt the codes.

Also at the Special Town Meeting: Members voiced their support on a non-binding referendum to move forward with plans for the 62-acre parcel of land known as the Foster/Castle Farm property.

The Needham Observer’s Seth Bauer details both decisions. Peter O’Neil also interviews a key player in the Foster property proposal. 

Newton development developments

  • Newton’s Zoning Board of Appeals voted 5-0 last week to approve Northland Investment Corporation’s 370 unit 40B project on Charlemont and Christina Streets (off of Needham Street). There will be 74 units of affordable housing at up to 80% AMI and another 19 deeper affordable units at up to 50% AMI.

  • The Newton City Council’s Land Use Committee voted 7-0 last week to approve the Sunrise Senior Living project at the corner of Florence Street and Rt. 9 in Chestnut Hill. The matter will go to the full council on Nov. 6. The project entails 95 units and 120 beds of assisted living and memory care. Sunrise has an existing facility on Washington Street near Newton Corner.

  • The Toll Brothers 198 unit 40B at 528 Boylston Street returns to the ZBA on Nov. 8.

A familiar face joins Wellesley town government 

Corey Testa

The Town of Wellesley has hired Corey Testa as its assistant executive director of general government services. 

For the past five plus years the Wellesley native served as staff director to Wellesley state Rep. and Assistant Majority Leader Alice Peisch. 

Testa fills the post held by Amy Frigulietti who departed in May to become deputy town administrator in Franklin.

Sorry, we're sold out tomorrow 

Tomorrow's Fall Business Breakfast -- honoring Dr. Rochelle Walensky and featuring Rich Gotham of the undefeated Boston Celtics -- is sold out.

We may have a few cancellations today so add your name to our wait list and we'll do our best to find you a seat.

Today's grab bag 

  • Clarification: In Tuesday’s newsletter I described the group Right Size Newton as opposing the state’s MBTA Communities Plan. I should have written that Right Size opposes Newton’s current Village Center Overlay District plan, which covers an footprint larger than that mandated by the state law. 

  • The West Newton Cinema has been awarded two matching grants totaling $43,000 from the Mass Cultural Council. Funds will enable the nonprofit to perform a full facilities assessment as it seeks to raise money to restore and purchase its building.

  • HONE, the Needham committee charged with recommending a plan to Town Meeting for compliance with the MBTA Community Law hosts a multi-family community workshop Nov. 9, 7-9 p.m. at Town Hall and via Zoom. Details 

  • The Celtics honored Needham firefighter Mark McCullough as a "Hero Among Us" for helping save a man's life who went into cardiac arrest at a New England Patriots game. (Needham Patch)

  • Eastern Bank has completed the sale of its insurance division, Eastern Insurance Group, to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. The sale was announced at the same time the bank announced it was acquiring Cambridge Trust. (BBJ)

  • Want to grill Newton's candidate's before Tuesday's election? Attend Saturday Night at the Races, a “candidating” event, Nov. 4, from 3 to 5:30pm, at the Newton North High School cafeteria.

A note to our members: Don't go phish 

Some of our members have reported receiving solicitations from a company offering to sell our members' and event attendees' email addresses.

Please know that we never share, or sell, your email addresses to third parties (or even to fellow members). We have no reason to believe this offer, or vendor, is legitimate and don't recommend clicking on the link.

State programs aim to connect migrants with jobs 

State and federal officials will co-host a clinic the week of Nov. 13 in Middlesex County deigned to help migrants apply for work authorizations, the Globe’s Samantha A Gross reported this week.

The new program builds on a few programs currently operated by the state, including a partnership with the Commonwealth Corporation Foundation that aims to connect businesses to people in shelters looking to get on-the-job training and skills development.

The state is also piloting a program that connects the state’s MassHire’s regional workforce boards and careers centers to shelters statewide. 

A work authorization allows new arrivals to legally work and earn money as their cases move through immigration courts, and also creates an opportunity for employers struggling to fill jobs.

Why these lawn signs should be removed

Save Our Villages

As of this morning, close to 150 Newton residents had signed a petition calling on the group behind the “Save our Villages” lawn signs to remove them because they’re misleading.

The signs depict what appears to be a nine-story high rise and a second building that’s six stories tall.

But the Village Center Rezoning proposal, now under consideration by the Newton City Council, would mostly allow buildings no taller than 2 ½ to 3 ½ stories, with some locations allowing for 4 ½ stories and, in limited locations, up to 5 ½ stories for those that include a larger portion of units for much-needed affordable housing.

Good people can disagree over whether or not the proposal is good for Newton or not.

But it should be an honest, fact based, discussion. And the fact is those lawn signs are deceitful and should be removed.

If you agree, you can add your name here.

That’s what you need to know for today -- All Souls Day -- unless you need to know the four-legged reason why Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright says he quitting baseball.

Looking forward to seeing many of you tomorrow at the Marriott.

Greg Reibman (he, him)
President & CEO
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