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3 council candidates woo association.

Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.

WORCESTER - The Shrewsbury Street Neighborhood Association welcomed three City Council candidates last night, including Mayor Joseph C. O'Brien.

Association President Gary J. Vecchio has railed against the mayor before about his vote in December for a tax classification that moved away from the lowest residential tax rate, which the Shrewsbury Street group has favored, but last night was cordial but firm in reiterating his disagreement with Mr. O'Brien.

Mr. O'Brien acknowledged that when he was running for mayor, he committed to voting for the lowest residential tax rate. But he said his vote in December that increased the average tax bill for residents around $30 annually was based on facts presented to him at the time. He said that after speaking with many small-business owners in the community, he decided to vote for what he saw as a more equitable shouldering of the tax burden.

Earlier this year, in response to the neighborhood association's four-item questionnaire it gives council candidates, Mr. O'Brien was noncommittal on voting to restore the lowest residential tax rate.

Residents also heard from at-large City Council candidates Stephen S. Buchalter and Devin Coleman. Mr. Buchalter, who owns Enterprise Cleaning, said he would not vote for the lowest residential tax rate. He said that as a resident, he wants to see his residential property tax go down. But he said attracting more business development in the city is a better way to provide tax relief to homeowners than keeping taxes on businesses too high.

Mr. Coleman said his answer to the lowest residential tax rate question was a "yes, but," and explained that he would support the lowest residential rate, but only to the extent that it doesn't prevent businesses from hiring.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 22, 2011
Words:290
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