NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — New Bedford residents or business owners who have questions about their taxes and how to seek an abatement are invited to attend a “taxpayer town hall” next week.

Ward 1 Councilor Leo Choquette, Ward 3 Councilor Shawn Oliver and Councilor at Large Ian Abreu are putting on the discussion, which will be held at Keith Middle School, 225 Hathaway Boulevard, on Tuesday, January 23 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The forum will feature members of the city council along with representatives from the City Tax Assessor's Office.

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Freshman Councilor Choquette originally planned on holding the meeting solely for his North End constituents, but then realized it would work better in a citywide format.

“The idea to have this ‘taxpayer town hall’ was born from the many questions I received from constituents during my open office hours over the last three weeks,” Choquette said. “I realized there was no way to efficiently address each individual question on a back-and-forth basis, so the logical solution was to get as many folks in one room and allow them an open mic to members of City government.”

Oliver said he too was hearing from constituents in Ward 3 about tax issues.

“It was brought to my attention that there is slight confusion surrounding the FY2024 tax/abatement process due to a few contributing factors,” he said. “So much so that after speaking with a few of my colleagues as well as the Board of Assessors Office, I felt it necessary to provide the general public and taxpayers a venue where they can voice these concerns and ask questions regarding these uncertainties.”

The session is open to the public; no advance appointments are required, and questions will be addressed on a first come, first served basis.

“Giving taxpayers a voice is never a wrong thing,” Choquette said.

Councilor Abreu noted that this will help the process of tax assessment and abatement be more transparent for taxpayers.

“New Bedford property taxpayers, both residential and commercial, whether related to how a property is assessed, how we arrive at a fiscal budget or how a tax rate is set, have a lot of questions, and they deserve to be connected with the experts and those in government who make decisions that affect their wallets,” Abreu said.

“I applaud Councilors Choquette and Oliver for working with myself, other colleagues on the City Council and members of our elected Board of Assessors to help provide this forum so that our constituents can have their questions and concerns heard and answered in an open and transparent manner,” he said.

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