Tuesday, April 24, 2018 16:17

An Equitable Tax Rate Split Or Not?,

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.

Here We Go Again

October 29th, 2010

Here we go again, The Clinton PD has nearly completed weapons qualifications at a new location inside the Clinton border of the Brandli parcel. This is a great solution as it doesn’t “violate” Lancaster’s “residential” zoning bylaw and gives the police department a no cost, town owned place to qualify.

The problem is that Chairman LeBlanc of the BOS doesn’t want ANY shooting to take place anywhere near the vaunted private enclave near South Meadow Rd. This issue is not about shooting on a legal parcel of town owned land,   but is about placating the privileged petulant few and ignores the rest of the townspeople. The fact remains that certain Selectmen were “worried” about liability when using private property, which they did not.  Chairman LeBlanc has indicated he wanted the Chief to come back before the board before “shooting commenced”.  This seems a bit hypocritical as they told Town Administrator Mike Ward and the Chief to investigate alternate means of completing weapons certification after a Court-ordered temporary injunction was issued  on the range in owned by Clinton but in Lancaster.

After all, the BOS sponsored a Town Meeting question that passed, and gave the Town Administrator a “stronger role” in day-to-day operations of departments under the BOS control, this includes the Police Department.

I believe the Chief and Town Administrator came up with a perfect solution, no added cost, a safe spot and done in a timely manner. The other thing that’s not clear, and I’ll make it clear for you, is the solution with the portable trailer is $2500 per two day period and it took six day to complete. that’s a price tag of $7500, not to mention overtime costs.  If I find this wasteful spending is in the budget next year I’ll make sure I’m at town meeting to ask the voters to remove this unnecessary cost from the towns budget.

Back to the private property “liability” arguement. How come it would have been OK as was previously bandied about to shoot in Lancaster where the Lancaster PD shoots, ON PRIVATE PROPERTY?  PRIVATE gun clubs were also suggested.  I think the liability issue is a smoke screen to throw the residents of Clinton off course and so they agree with an expensive waste of money solution which again only panders to the privledged few. Would you actually want to pay for a trailer to be placed in downtown Clinton at the police station and have shooting there? Not me, and certainly not at a high cost when town owned land is available and should be used for it’s intended purpose.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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!

Stuffed Suits, Lawsuits and Arrogance

March 26th, 2010

Well Lancaster’s at it again, the town of Lancaster has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Clinton and it’s own Zoning Board of Appeals. The newspaper account lists Lancaster as the plaintiff through its building commissioner Peter Munro.

It’s beyond belief, the Lancaster ZBA who was required to setup a hearing within 65 days of the filing of an appeal by Clinton has now led the building commissioner to file suit against them(ZBA) and the town of Clinton.  All because they couldn’t get their act together and have the hearing in a timely manner which resulted in constructive approval. (of Clinton’s Appeal)

If one is to believe the party line, then Peter Munro, The building commissioner was supposedly “aggrieved” by Clinton’s claim as well as by the ZBA’s not having the hearing 65 days after the filing by Clinton, what a joke!  My opinion is the tail is wagging the dog, that is, Mr. Orlando Pacheco Lancaster’s  Town Manager orchestrated this bogus lawsuit because he is acting like a petulant child, showing his arrogant and blatant disregard for the Clinton Police Force and therefore the town. I’m sure he told HIS BOS that he was going to have Mr. Munro file suit and they agreed like good little pawns, but make no mistake, Pacheco is the puppet-master, pulling all the strings behind the scenes in my opinion.  I do wonder who is paying the price for his dog and pony show?

Was Mr. Munro really “aggrieved” not in my opinion, it’s just the next move, actually Orlando’s next move in a hallucinogenic game of chess Lancaster is playing with the Town of Clinton. They had the audacity to deem their residentially zoned firing range “legal” and issue themselves  a special permit at a hearing last year and then didn’t apply the same logic or precedence to the Clinton range, what hypocrisy.  We have ours and you can’t have yours.

Clinton has contended that the Police should be able to qualify at the rifle range and were willing to set parameters such as hours of operation and whatever else was brought to the table…Lancaster refused, talk about belligerent behavior.  Hopefully Clinton will win the suit and the deafening silence will go away, replaced by officers qualifying with their firearms to help keep the population of Clinton safe.

The Do Nothing Selectmen Did Something (Updated)

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.

Nothing But Net – Scott Brown Scores From 5 Point Land

January 17th, 2010

January 19th 2010

OK, Here are the Clinton machine count results:

Brown—–2719—61.3%
Coakley—1655—37.3%
Kennedy–58——-1.3%

Congratulations to the 2719 Clinton voters who voted for Scott Brown. You my friends are part of history, the start of something bigger than you may realize. I’m watching his victory speech and he is truly a class act, gracious and
positive.

I can’t wait for the 2010 mid-term elections when the House and Senate get re-adjusted so to speak. One party rule sucks, you need that check and balance of differing opinions.  I mean that to be any single party Republican or Democrat.
You all did a great job, Thank you.

****************************************

Below is my letter to the Editor in support of Scott Brown. In these dark days of massive government debt, the specter of a potential bureaucracy larger than the IRS if Obama-Care were to pass and with one party Democratic rule that’s crushing what’s left of the middle class, we need a leader like Scott Brown.

Coakley with the morally bankrupt national democratic political machine have run one of the most negative attack campaigns I’ve ever witnessed.  (Besides local Clinton Elections!)  These people should be damn ashamed of themselves – I doubt they are though.

Scott  Brown is to much of a gentleman to run a negative campaign and I applaud him, win or lose. Although I do believe he will prevail, nothing is ever over until it’s over.  I hope to God he does win and shows people that through perseverance and honesty you can prevail against heinous attack campaigns. GO SCOTT BROWN.

My Letter–

I would like to ask all voters to please get out January 19th and vote for Scott Brown as our next U.S. Senator. He is a stand up man with a great message and the common sense ideas needed to help lead us out of the mess our government is in.

From an across the board tax cut for families and businesses that will increase investment and create new job growth to his belief in limited government, and in the boundless power of the free market to create jobs and wealth for our people, Scott Brown exudes all that is right with his views and great attitude. Scott Brown knows that the big-spenders in Washington need to quit expanding our government and defending their wasteful spending, and start expanding the economy and defending our jobs.

Scott Brown believes that in Massachusetts, one-party power breeds corruption and arrogance, and it’s time we end
it.

Again I ask that you please vote on January 19th for Scott Brown as your next U.S. Senator, It’s a decision you won’t regret.