Selectmen say ‘not yet’ to Thrift Shop tax abatement

The Thrift Shop won’t be getting a tax abatement at its new location — yet.

The Board of Selectmen reviewed the request at its meeting Wednesday, April 19.

The non-profit business is moving to a different and bigger location on 27 Governor Street this month, where, as tenant, it will have to pay property taxes.

The Thrift Shop donates all profits to town organizations. Last year, it donated $145,000 — funds that could be potentially reduced with tax costs it didn’t have before.

But the board was concerned that granting an abatement could open it up to more organizations in town.

“The other question that the board brought up at previous meetings was, Are there other 501(c)(3)s in town that lease that might come forward?” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

Selectman Bob Hebert seconded that sentiment.

“I love the idea of the thrift shops and everything,” he said.

“I’m looking down the road a little bit, and this can open up a whole can of worms. We need to have a policy that would guide us — I see some real potential issues down the road.”

Selectman Steve Zemo weighed in that a possible alternative could be funding the organization in some other way, without granting a tax abatement.

“A request can come in next year, and perhaps we revisit the percentage of our grants,” he said.

“Because, really, it’s just moving money — abatement, or grant, or donation. …

“I’m a big fan of you folks and the efforts that you put in,” Zemo added. “Really, a tax abatement or community grant, donation, to me it’s all the same — it’s really moving taxpayer money to different organizations in the town.”

The board agreed to take some more time to come up with a solid abatement policy.

“I think we, as a town, should have an abatement policy so we can address this and be fair to everybody,” said Hebert.