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Posts Tagged ‘BOS’

Spring Has Sprung – Bloodsport Is In The Air

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

The beauty of spring is here and with that comes the local election season. Unlike last year there is actually a contested selectmen’s race, although the cast is made up of all selectmen and former selectmen. So much for new blood…Pun Intended!

Vying for seats are incumbents David Sargent and Maryrose Dickhaut and former selectmen Mark Iacobucci and Kevin Haley. This is actually a very interesting turn of events. I don’t remember anytime in the past when all the candidates were former selectmen.

I’m going to leave you hanging for a while and not comment on what I think may happen or on the candidates. I’ll wait until the caucus and see if anyone is put up as a potential “spoiler”. That will be very telling.

Instant Karma

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Now that the media frenzy surrounding Lancaster Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco’s bawdy adventure has died down I’ll give it one last crack.

Pacheco has of course been a driving force behind closing Clinton’s rifle range, as such I have my own opinion of his actions. (nothing personal as I don’t know the guy).  I’d like nothing better than for Lancaster to hire a new Town Administrator as Mr. Pacheco has cost the Town of Clinton as well as the Clinton Fish & Game Protective Association many dollars and energy in litigation to try and maintain the legal use of our circa 1924 rifle range.

Instead of compromise he’s pitted the towns against each other for the benefit and appeasement of the  few petulant, squeaky wheels that live at the S.Meadow quasi- private enclave.

If Mr. Pacheco had any class whatsoever he’d fall on his proverbial sword and abdicate his position. He’s brought shame and more media attention than a presidential campaign to Lancaster. I work far from Central Massachusetts and have been asked numerous times if Clinton was near Lancaster, and did I hear about the Lancaster TA’s  gross bark encrusted pictures that were on the Channel 4 nightly news.

In the end Lancaster and its BOS are doing themselves a disservice by keeping an official that’s a laughing stock around the world. Who the hell could sit across the desk from him and work out business after seeing  pictures of a bark covered Pacheco just roused from his passed out stupor. He has no integrity left, especially after lying in November and saying he had food poisoning from eating somewhere in Westboro.

Do I believe in Karma – you bet I do.

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.

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

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!

Backpedaling And Ignoring Our Real Issues

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

In the latest edition of the Tines and Courier here is what Lancaster Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco has to say about OUR rifle range:

“Lancaster doesn’t want police barred from shooting at the Brandli parcel — it wants to talk. So said Town Administrator (TA) Orlando Pacheco this week, adding that he was disappointed with the anger and name-calling that followed Lancaster Building Inspector Peter Munro’s letter to Clinton selectmen, late last month, ordering them to “cease and desist” discharging of weapons at the rifle range off South Meadow Road.”

“We know the Clinton Police Department qualifies [its officers to carry firearms] in October,” Pacheco said Tuesday. “We wanted to send that, really, as a way of motivating them to file a special permit.

First off there is no WE in a unilateral decision. Pacheco reportedly ordered the Lancaster Building Inspector to issue the cease and desist order. I’m not so sure that it was at the request of any Lancaster resident either.

But was it as unilateral as it looked??? I’d make an educated guess or call it my opinion that it wasn’t. (The Lancaster BOS were out of the loop).  As the story unfolds we find that the police officer that was verbally browbeat  (this has been described as a hissy fit.) for practicing there was met at the gate by Clinton BOS Vice Chairman LeBlanc, his friend and a Clinton firefighter who lives nearby.

Second, isn’t it strange that instead of requesting to be on the agenda of a Clinton BOS meeting a cease and desist order was issued…to get Clinton to talk!?  this is all too coincidental. Backpedaling is a better word to describe this. I’ll wager an educated guess that there was collusion between the two CLINTON selectmen involved as well as the Lancaster TA.  Yes, the anti second amendment and anti law enforcement duo  most likely called their willing ally in Lancaster and requested the cease and desist be ordered against their OWN police department.  Now the Lancaster TA  said it was to get Clinton to talk, fat chance. It was just another ham handed effort by our horrendous pair of self serving selectmen to silence the rifle range.

Another quote from the Times and Courier:

Dickhaut and LeBlanc also defended a meeting they had attended, separate from the other selectmen, to discuss the cease-and-desist order with the police chief and town administrator.

“On Sept. 20, I was called by two residents, one in Clinton, one in Lancaster,” LeBlanc said. “I was told there were two people shooting.” He walked to the property and “encounter[ed] one of Clinton’s police officers coming out of the range in his police vehicle with a private citizen. … I thought the [2007] cease-and-desist order applied uniformly.”

LeBlanc asked for the meeting with Police Chief Mark Laverdure, “just to have a discussion,” he said. “I didn’t believe there was disciplinary action required.”

This is a half assed mea culpa, two selectmen meeting with the police chief without the rest of the BOS knowing anything about it and for a for a pretty long meeting, then asking him to order his men to not use the range is a bit more than a “DISCUSSION“. This borders on an abuse of power to get their self serving agenda item finished.

Of course there was no disciplinary action required, the police have always qualified there and should in perpetuity. that range is Clinton’s range and has been for 80 plus years. The chief is being put in the middle by this pair.

These selectmen should be finished, thrown out of office when their terms are up. We don’t need self serving, power abusing officials who have no clue what our real issues are. look no further than this…

…The state has said it would be cutting local aid again and this inept pair hasn’t even started looking at ways to save jobs…yes proactively looking at all options to save law enforcement, firefighters, DPW workers, school personel and non-union employees. Once again Clinton Selectmen are playing their fiddles while Clinton burns,  it’s just absolutely unbelievable and so damn amateurish!

Secret Meetings Update

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Once again the anti rifle range pair of Clinton Selectmen, Chair Mary Rose Dickhaut and James LeBlanc have shot off their mouths. This time is different though, In a meeting with Police Chief Mark Laverdure the pair without prior authorization or prior knowledge of the rest of the BOS summonsed the Chief to a meeting at Town Hall. During this meeting the pair asked the Chief to order his officers to stop shooting at the rifle range and find somewhere else to perform shooting qualifications.

This practice is not only unethical, inappropriate and likely illegal but also violated the other Selectmen’s rights to be a part of any policy decision regarding the Police Department. They are the Police Commissioners after all.

Dickhaut and LeBlanc have once again used their positions of power to try and politically manipulate the usage of the Clinton Rifle Range. This practice is an abuse of power and must be stopped immediately. These two Selectmen have done more to harm relations between the two towns and their police departments than any previous board ever has.

Lets see which Selectmen step up to the plate and support their Police Department and which ones are spineless jellyfish in the face of controversy! I suspect I know the answer and don’t look forward to writing about the 4-1 vote.

These two need to be voted out of office and are a total disgrace to the Town of Clinton. They  are individuals who have put their own agenda first and public safety last.

UPDATE:

Last night the BOS voted 3-2 to appeal the cease and desist order against the Clinton Police Department. I’d like to publically thank Selectmen William F.Connolly Jr, Kevin Haley and Kathy Sheridan for doing the right thing and trying to uphold the Town of Clinton’s right to use it’s property and for standing up for local Law Enforcement.


As for Lancaster, Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco who ordered their Building Inspector to issue the cease and desist, he certainly knows he works for the Selectmen doesn’t he! Actually by doing Dickhaut and LeBlanc’s bidding for them I would say he just doesn’t know which towns Selectmen he works for.  He unilaterally ordered the Inspector to issue the order without the Lancaster BOS knowledge or direction.
That’s a real nice way to foster employer-employee relations!

If I were on that board I wouldn’t tolerate an usurption of my duties and the further political and day to day friction it has caused between the parties involved.

A Step In The Right Direction

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

I was very happy to see that the Planning Board recently gave preliminary approval to Brady-Sullivan of Manchester N.H. to develop the former Lancaster Mills.

I applaud the Planning Board for doing what was right rather than what was politically expedient.  Chairman Mary Rose Dickhaut and Selectman Kevin Haley again stated in an open meeting of the BOS that they were against it. Selectman Bill Conolly stated he was for it and I’m not sure where the others stood.

For the leadership of this town to say NO to sorely needed tax revenue and potential short term jobs building out the project and longer term jobs that would be available in the commercial industrial portion is just plain foolish and lack any vision for the town as a whole.

Again, thanks to all who made it happen, you did the right thing!