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Archive for the ‘Clinton Politics’ Category

Local Businesses Lose Once Again – Updated With Figures

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

I want to thank Selectmen Kathleen Sheridan and William Connolly, Jr for stepping up last night and trying to help keep our local businesses alive and less burdened by property taxes, also for seeing the potential of helping others locate here through a more equitable tax rate split.

To the other three, Dickhaut, LeBlanc and Sargent, shame on you! You people don’t have a clue what you’re doing. Selectman Dickhaut said “lowering the split during the past few years has failed to attract new business to town, as proponents predicted” shows a shallow, politically motivated move that will save residents a minimal amount per quarterly tax bill. Don’t spend it all in one place people, wake up and complain to these rogue selectmen.

Dickhaut has a lot of nerve and must think we the people of Clinton are stupid, during her reign our director of community and economic development left for greener pastures. The BOS under her chairmanship dragged their feet for months before hiring a replacement and when they did they hired someone who didn’t perform. Once again we have no one in this position, what’s it been 5 or 6  months now?  How in hell would you expect a token, one year drop in the split to 1.65 to have the desired effect without someone to advocate and pull businesses into town?

Will these three anti-business selectmen actually take responsibility when they push what’s left of our small businesses over the edge and out of business? What will they do when a larger business like Nypro or Dunn and Company says good bye Clinton, I can do business in another town that has a more business friendly rate split. I’ll tell you what they’ll do, exactly what they have to, put the tax burden on YOU the residential taxpayer.

When your neighborhood corner store or favorite small business is shuttered, please remember to call and thank Dickhaut, LeBlanc and Sargent for “helping you”. I’m amazed at the total lack of intelligence these selectmen have show with regard to the over-taxation of businesses and the effect it will have on our town.

Please make sure you contact the board of selectmen and make them aware of your displeasure with this poorly executed, anti-business action.

Board of Selectmen
Town Hall
242 Church St.
Clinton, Ma 01510
(978) 365-4120

UPDATE

I got official numbers with residential and commercial-industrial examples this morning, with the residential/commercial split now at 1.70 the tax increase for the average home (2010 average home value is $219,816) is $8 per year or $2 per quarterly tax bill. The tax bill for the average home at a split of 1.70 is $3106

With the previous years split of 1.65 the increase of the average home would have been $39 or $31 dollars more per year than the rate split of 1.70 that was set. This would have equaled $7.75 per quarterly bill minus the $2 that it actually increased for a net savings of $5.75 per quarter.

So for $5.75 per quarter the BOS has effectively screwed local businesses small and large. Here’s the math for a business with the exact same value as the average home.

With the residential/commercial split now at 1.70 the tax increase for a commercial-industrial property with the same evaluation of$219,816 is $624 per year or $156 per quarterly tax bill. The 2010 tax bill for a commercial-industrial property with an evaluation of $219,816 is $6014

With the previous years split of 1.65 the tax increase for a commercial-industrial property with the same evaluation of $219,816 would have been $448 per year or $112 per quarterly tax bill.

So as you can see from these examples, commercial-industrial business owners were already paying a ridiculous sum for their property and and now will pay even more. Would you bother to keep a business here, or locate here with such an inequitable rate? The BOS members that voted for this were given this information and still opted to pander to residential voters, most likely for political reasons. Again I applaud Selectmen Sheridan and Connolly for having the courage and foresight to try and make the rate more equitable and help small (and large) businesses remain viable and to keep their doors open.

When businesses close or are unable to hire because of this viciously unfair rate I want the BOS members who voted this rate split in to take full responsibility for their anti-business actions. I would hope now that you folks have this information you’d demand the same.

I really hope pandering to the residential ratepayers for the votes they hope to gain is worth the $23 per household they saved people.

An Equitable Tax Rate Split Or Not?,

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Clinton has a terrible tax rate split right now, 1.65, the state max is 1.70. Other towns that have successfully attracted businesses, and I’ll group them all together – commercial, industrial retail, etc have done so through a more equitable tax rate split or even a single tax rate.

For those that don’t understand what the tax rate split is here is a quick definition: This option results in two rates: a rate for residential and open space property and a higher rate for commercial, industrial and personal property.

Clinton now charges businesses 1.65 times the residential rate. The decision to tax property classes at the same or different rates is made annually by the board of selectmen, or city council with the mayor’s approval, after a public hearing. (M.G.L. Ch. 40, § 56.)

Today Clinton has a rate of 1.65 for commercial/industrial property which unfairly penalizes them for just being a commercial or industrial piece of real estate. Please understand this isn’t just a large employer like Nypro, but your small mom and pop convenience store, coffee shop or retail store. These small businesses where the owners barely eek out a living bear the brunt of subsidizing our tax base.

When I was on the BOS we dropped the rate one year from 1.70 to 1.65 and the next year I believe it was dropped to 1.62 or 1.63.  This was when Scholastic Book decided to locate in Clinton citing the trend toward a more equitable tax rate. This in turn brought a taxable business along with employee’s to Clinton. Yes, if I remember correctly they did have a TIF with a ten year increment, but that wasn’t the impetus for them to locate here, it was the trend of a lower split they cited. They were not “hit” with a change in the split until after the change in the makeup of the BOS.  In December 2008 the BOS in an anti-business move raised the split to the state DOR’s maximum of 1.70.

The changes in the split from 1.70 down to 1.63 that were voted in during my tenure amounted to about a $12 to $15 per year increase for the average household. This translates to an average increase of $3.00 to $3.75 per quarterly bill yet decreases the prohibitively high taxes on small businesses which ultimately helps them stay in business.

I can’t wait to see what this years version of the BOS does to help our community. My bet is they opt to keep near the maximum split available which will keep businesses from locating or relocating here and keep squeezing the small mom and pop businesses for all they are worth. In other words they won’t be helping in creating jobs or getting businesses to locate or relocate here

For those who don’t know what a TIF is:  It’s A development tool designed to help finance certain eligible improvements to property in designated redevelopment areas (TIF districts) by utilizing the new, or incremental, tax revenues generated by the project after completion. Under TIF, property taxes within the TIF District are frozen for up to 23 years, the property owners then make Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS) to a “special allocation fund”. The proceeds of the fund are then used to reimburse the developer for eligible project costs or to retire indebtedness incurred to cover those costs.

A TIF is just another tool to help with economic development, yes they help but aren’t the be all, end all for economic development. A more balanced tax rate split is without a doubt one of the best ways to increase economic development. Another point is that both the community and economic development director and the chamber of commerce advocated for a more equitable split.

I wonder who will be working these issues now that Clinton has NO community and economic development director? A pro-active board would have already addressed this.

Updated: Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs (Except For Republican Candidates)

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

It seems like whenever there’s an election we have a problem with signs disappearing. This year is no different in that respect, the actual difference is the number of signs missing and the fact that they’re all for Republican candidates.

Last night (October 4th) was a banner night for the childish sign thieves. Many Charlie Baker for Governor and various other Republicans signs were stolen or destroyed. These include Lew Evangelidis – Sheriff, Karen Polito – Treasurer and Jen Caissie – Governors Council. We lost a number of them over the weekend as well.

It seems really suspect that very few signs for the Democratic candidates have gone missing and Republicans can’t seem to keep signs standing due to juvenile behavior. Sure, the wind did it or kids, NO WAY, NO HOW in this case. Far too many in disparate sections of town are gone. Main street from one end to the other, Water street,  Berlin street, you name it signs are gone everywhere.

I hope whoever is responsible is apprehended by the police (who have been notified) and prosecuted so we can see who the juvenile donkey’s that are doing this are.

I guess when people get desperate, and see their candidate might lose, they resort to childish behavior.

Added 10/6 — I did talk to Evangelidis’ campaign and they said that in Worcester they’ve had half their signs stolen or destroyed. Someone is even taking sledgehammers to the 4×8 signs and destroying the frames. This is just asinine juvenile  behavior,  I hope Lew prevails as he and his people have taken the moral high road and keep soldiering on, replacing and repairing signs.

10/8 — Four more  signs, all for Republican candidates were destroyed on High St last night. I mean completely smashed. I tried to fix a couple and put some new new ones up. The people responsible for this must really be running scared, as that happens desperation and puerile behavior ensues. I hope they get a life and start doing more productive campaigning for their candidates.

A Golden Road For The Few.

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

It’s about time I got around to this column, I was slightly surprised to see that Jim McGovern was proffering a $250K “entitlement” to the town or in reality to the private enclave up on S.Meadow Rd.  A new road and culvert we read, the golden road for the few and connected. I could name many other roads in town that need help before this wasteful spending of OUR tax dollars.

Inserted into some “waste of money, spending bill”  is an earmark to please the SMPWA and the folks that want no one to make noise, use motorboats or target shoot near the NOW GATED South Meadow pond.

Talk about pandering to his “VOTERS” McGovern doesn’t even have the  money in hand or approved. This is a waste of out tax dollars as the causeway is  intact. This money would widen the culvert and it would also repave and widen S.Meadow Rd… Wahhhh, the road flooded once during a 100 year flood and now we need a new one…give me a break, the culvert works fine on the other 99 years and 364 days.

If these proponents of free spending do get the money that’s supposedly allocated, the least they could do is construct a new boat ramp that would allow the now locked out senior citizens and handicapped with renewed access, this is a must. With a widened road it would be possible and with the large sum of money it is financially able to be done.

But, and this is a big but, I doubt the residents of the more and more restricted area would approve. Seniors and handicapped with large motorized boats would break the deafening silence and the petulant anti-public access folks would have a hissy fit.

Let’s hold their feet to the fire and if the money is approved, request a boat ramp, for our handicapped and elderly friends and neighbors who are now on the outside looking in!

BOS – Poor Performance

Friday, June 25th, 2010

What the heck is going on with the Clinton BOS? First they put an article on the Town Meeting warrant to make the Town Administrator (TA) a strong TA with the ability to hire, appoint and fire department heads (with an option for the BOS to reject within 15 days). So as explained at Town Meeting (TM) the department heads would have the ability to hire and fire with approval from the TA.

The BOS in an inexplicably bizarre move has voted 4-1 to relinquish the TA’s and it’s own duties and responsibilities and pay a HIRED, private consulting firm to recommend who to promote to Sargeant — Doing this instead of our elected town officials, the TA or the department head recommending the next Clinton Police Department’s sergeant is an abdication of their duties.  Come on — Paying to figure out which person to promote from within…

Selectman William Connolly, Jr, the only selectman to dissent seems to be the only one with common sense and the courage to not cave into letting this private firm select from a pool of internal candidates. He objected to the process and would prefer local officials do the hiring which is the correct mode of operation for town government.

Maybe we should just repeal the warrant article before it’s approved by the legislature. And yes, the selectmen do still have the power to allow the process to proceed the way it was outlined at TM without approval. They can assign this to the TA and ultimately to the appointing department head.  First meeting of the “new” board and the first botched policy decision, it’s going to be a long year with no leadership and business (or lack of business) as usual

Thank you

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

I just wanted to take a moment to thank the 866 Clinton voters who voted and put their trust in me. I do wish there had been a larger turnout and more folks had exercised their right to select their town leadership. Congratulations to the winners who ran good clean campaigns.

I will resume posting to Bloodsport when an issue comes up that I feel strongly about, in fact I do have one in the works right now and will share the details of it with you as soon as I am able to gain a couple more details.

Thanks again,

Joe

I Respectfully Ask For Your Vote.

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

As I campaign and meet many of you and to those I may not run into in my travels, I respectfully ask for your vote for the position of Selectman.

If you read this BLOG from the beginning you will see I’ve documented what I believe are missteps taken by the BOS over the past couple years.  I also have a few stating that I agree with the course of action they’ve taken when they’ve done the right thing.

I believe I have the experience both from my municipal service as a Selectman, Charter Commissioner, member of multiple committee’s and sub-committee’s and from my professional experience as an engineer and project leader. In these roles I have had to make many hard decisions and work collaboratively with others.

I will be able to step into office and hit the ground running, there will be no learning curve, you will be fully represented from day one.

I also have a story to share with you, as I read at Clintonmass.com about “candidate apathy” I believe I know why at least one candidate hasn’t posted anything. It goes like this;

I was standing out Saturday and had a “conversation” with Mr. Joseph Trautner. I asked him about his comment at candidates night saying I gave the Police, Fire and DPW workers raises they shouldn’t have gotten. I responded yes, I did approve raises when I signed their contracts back in 2005-2006.  He said they didn’t deserve raises and that the Police and Fire should be cut in budget dollars and in size. I said what do you think we should do?  deputize people and use them to police the town?  to which he replied YES! I said what about if your house was on fire and he replied and I paraphrase “They (Fire Department) have never saved a building anyway” as well as something about having a volunteer department.  So take whatever you want away from that interchange.  I guess if I didn’t support public safety I wouldn’t want to post any of my information either!

The Do Nothing Selectmen Did Something (Updated)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Wow, I’m stunned.  The do nothing BOS actually did something at one of their infrequent meetings, and it actually made sense.  At the urging of Selectman Connolly the board created three sub-committee’s to study Regionalization, Capital Planning and Changes to Town Government.

I’m glad to see that the board that hasn’t done a damn thing all year accept issue liquor licenses and turn down automobile sales permits has done something that makes sense and has a pro-active tone to it.

I won’t get too giddy though, It may be nothing but lip service by the Chairman to placate the masses as it had been brought up in open session by Connolly and couldn’t be swept under the rug.  Who knows, maybe they have room on their committee for someone that served on the Charter Commission and as a Selectman, one who has true insight and a working understanding of town government and what is lacking.  I wonder what would happen if I applied???

Hmmm, maybe, just maybe it’s worth a shot, I wouldn’t expect to be selected as this board wants things to stay as they are, but it would be a good exercise in showing what hypocrites they are.  Dickhaut and Haley both ignored the  proposal I put forth as a starting point when I  was still on the board.

In fact here’s the starting proposal which was cut from the old charter document and put forth for DISCUSSION, this never took place as Dickhaut and Haley just sat there slack jawed and ignored it.  http://www.josephnotaro.com/Archived/change_agent_2_13_08.pdf

It should be an interesting committee, bet the outcome is what Dickhaut wanted all along, A strong Town Administrator with no specified duties so she can tell him / her what to do without boundries.

Common Sense Prevailed Last Night

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

The tax burden via the real estate tax split that has been levied for years on commercial and Industrial property owners has been a disincentive to stay in Clinton, or for businesses to locate or relocate here. Look at the empty mills and storefronts on High St. Some business failures and closings are obviously due to to the economy but you have to wonder how many of those would still be here if we had equitable tax rates for all…something I’ve pondered for quite a while.

Chairman Dickhaut seems to believe TIF’s are the answer, but they only last a finite amount of time and are only good with regard to new businesses. This is like when you open an account somewhere and they give you a better introductory rate. then it goes up and stays there. Existing businesses get no break other than the reduction of the rate split. Don’t get me wrong, the TIF is a good tool to have but is only one tool, not the be all end all of economic development.

Also Commercial and Industrial property values have not diminished in value like residential properties have, resulting in a double whammy on our businesses. The difference between the average increase and the increase with the split adjusted down to 1.65 is $28 per year which translates to $7 per quarterly bill. This is a pittance and doesn’t even register on my radar screen, for the record I’m a fiscal conservative.

When I was on the BOS the split we inherited was 1.75. We dropped it two years in a row at that time Scholastic Books decided to relocate in Clinton citing the business friendly reductions of the rate split. Last year the newly seated BOS raised it to the maximum level, also called the red zone by the business community. In fact when looking statewide businesses avoid communities that are at the max.

I can only hope the BOS has seen the light and this trend continues, if it does and more businesses were to locate here it would have the effect of actually reducing our residential tax burden even though we have a lower split, because more business would be paying taxes into our coffers.

I applaud Selectmen Haley, Sheridan and Connolly for having the courage and common sense to reduce the split, you did the right thing! Congrats…

The Height Of Hypocrisy

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

In a stunning display of hypocrisy the Lancaster Zoning Board of Appeals granted the Lancaster Police Department a special permit to practice and qualify on land that’s zoned residential. Lancaster has already set a precedent by serving cease and desist orders to both the Clinton Police Department and previously the Clinton Fish and Game for exactly the same purposes.

I believe this helps Clinton’s position with potential litigation. Lancaster has applied zoning laws differently in cases that are the same. I really don’t care about their nuanced decision that there aren’t residence’s as close by or what not. The facts are the facts, It’s a grandfathered use, shooting never stopped and Clinton has a right to use the property for Police department qualification and practice.  In fact as a non-profit entity the police are most likely exempt from these unjustly applied zoning laws. In my opinion Clinton is being singled out by Lancaster due to collusion with two of Clinton’s Selectmen, LeBlanc and Dickhaut.

In another case of hypocrisy the Clinton BOS voted 3-2 to deny a permit to an applicant to reopen the small car lot at the corner of Main and Water streets. Of course they all say they’re pro-business and want to help the little guy but when it comes right down to it they just don’t care. The person was from out of town, I bet if it was someone the dissenters knew, they’d have passed it in a New York second! Denying someone the opportunity to open a small business to earn a living in these trying economic times is just downright wrong.

The final case is that our our “stellar” selectwoman MaryRose Dickhaut voted against allowing Chief Laverdure to appoint three recently retired policemen as “special police officers” in order for them to be covered under the town’s umbrella policy and able to work details when full time officers aren’t available. Thankfully the other selectmen weren’t pigheaded about this and it passed.

Yeah, they all say they’re pro-public safety until they have to vote on allowing police to qualify at our range and to defend that right in a court of law if necessary or to help keep our Police Department full time. With the lack of funding all dispatchers will be laid off, possibly an officer. With the three latest retiree’s, four laid off dispatchers and a laid off officer we’ll be down eight people. this will result in only two officers per shift for a town of 14,000. What are our supposed pro-public safety selectmen doing about this? Nothing of course, because they’re hypocrites!