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BOSTON-An affordable housing initiative that would boost property taxes here is being opposed by a coalition of business leaders led by Fidelity Group and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. The initiative, which will be on the ballot this November, would impose a 2%-hike on property taxes in this city if approved.

Reportedly, the surcharge would generate $14 million that would be matched by the same amount in state money and would be dedicated to affordable housing, open space and historic preservation. The initiative is supported by a number of local organizations–such as the Boston Building Trades Council and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO–but city Mayor Thomas M. Menino has yet to identify his position on the ballot question, which pits the issue of raising taxes against supporting affordable housing.

According to Ed Pignone, spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce here, the business community would shoulder a disproportionate share of the tax hike if the initiative were approved. Commercial property is taxed at a higher rate in Boston and there are a number of exemptions for homeowners in the initiative. “This is not about affordable housing,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “The members of the business community who oppose this question are strong advocates of affordable housing. It’s about the economy. We have to ask ourselves, at a time when we are heading towards a recession and dealing with repercussions from the attacks, do we want to tax our businesses?”

Pignone points out that a tax hike will drive up the rents in the city and will impact small businesses as well as larger ones. “This is not the time to raise taxes,” he insists. “People are hurting out there and are worried about their jobs, rent and making payroll. What kind of message does this send to developers looking to do business in this city?”

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