Community development shows no vision, homeowners take the hit
Used to be, back when our phones weren’t smart and our current mayor was still draining 3s for Peabody High’s basketball team, annual property tax increases were about as frequent as snow storms in July. They just didn’t happen, and “la, la, la, la, la, laaaaa” all was well in the land ruled by Peter Torigian.
But it’s time to pay for all of that now, Peabody.
In case you missed it, Mayor Ted Bettencourt came before the City Council on Thursday night to get another annual property tax increase. For those of you keeping track, combined between the Bettencourt and Mike Bonfanti administrations, that’s now 14 straight years of increases.
This time, the average homeowner will, they say, pay just $164 more a year. Doesn’t seem like a lot on its own, but let’s add this all up, shall we?
With the average increase the past 14 years being roughly 4% annually, that means our property taxes have increased a whopping 56% since 2001.
Blame it on those dark clouds, if you want. After all, the Torigian years were all about keeping taxes low in the 1980s and 1990s, with no one really thinking about the future when it came to building schools, and re-building infrastructure.
But while Democrats in Congress continue to say “it’s Bush’s fault,” it’s time for Peabodyites everywhere to stop blaming Torigian.
The late, great Emperor walked away at the end of 2001, and there were people who voted in the past election who are too young to even remember him as Mayor.
It’s also shortsighted to keep blaming this on a big bill from the North Shore Mega-Voke, which our City Council unwisely voted for four years ago.
And … trying to sugar coat it by saying the tax increase is kinda a good thing since our property valuations have risen? That’s, as you say, so much cow fertilizer! Unless you’re selling your home to get out or Peabody, who cares?
The true reason for these ceaseless annual increases is that the two mayors since Torigian have offered little vision for dramatically increasing Peabody’s revenues, while taking that burden off residents.
Peabody still has no long-term plan for expanding its commercial tax base by bringing more quality-of-life-improving businesses to town. We have no REAL plan for the revitalization of our downtown, and the Centennial Industrial Park remains an out-of-date relic of the way business was done back in the 1970s.
Instead of having a long-term strategic plan for growth, we continue along with community development department leaders who couldn’t spell innovation without a dictionary, and think that jamming more tiny apartments into the downtown is the answer.
Look. I like Ted Bettencourt. I think he’s a great guy with lots of passion and enthusiasm for the job of Mayor, and have supported him personally with my votes and my checkbook. But he needs to lead here. He needs to clean house in community development, and bring in people who can help him develop a real plan for expanding our tax base without putting more of the burden on homeowners.
He needs to find out how they are doing it in Salem and Beverley and other North Shore communities, who have actual vibrant downtowns. Hey Ted, let’s go to other communities, where they’ve done it right, and try and steal away those strategic thinkers to help Peabody. It’s time to stop with the “well, Peabody still has the lowest tax rate on the North Shore” BS, and realize that it’s only going to get worse if we don’t start executing on a real community development plan.
After all, unless you call billboards and jamming more low income apartments into downtown “community development,” there really is no vision right now.
I truly am getting tired of writing this each year at this time.
But here we go again …
Happy Holidays, Peabody homeowners. You’re taxes are going up.