Poll: If you were mayor, what would you focus on first?

19 Nov

By Eye on Peabody

So let’s play pretend today, and give you a chance to play Mayor For A Day. Please participate in our poll below, so we can see which issues interest our EOP audience the most.

This post brought to you by “You Make the Call,” Peabody’s longest-running cable show on the issues of the day.

20 Responses to “Poll: If you were mayor, what would you focus on first?”

  1. the Outfront Guy* November 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    sure the schools will get their share of votes but clearly the wisest response is the effort to find new revenue sources to keep property values stable…but home prices are gradually starting to rise here in Dark City all by themselves.. Commercial tax revenue increases(both out in Centennial Park, Foster St and out towards Danversport AND Downtown) is what we really need…we need to bring in more NEW businesses of all sizes to Dark City…what is needed and has been needed for awhile is an active and effective Chamber of Commerce and a pro-business Mayor and City Council…do we have that right now? let’s ask our readers what they think…………..

    • Anonymous November 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

      Property Values???? It reads Property Taxes Stable, single minded people in this city drives me crazy. You all scream for new upgraded schools and city services but, you scream to keep the lowest tax rate on the North Shore. Are we not all sick of the battle cry LOWEST TAXES ON THE NORTH SHORE!!!!!!? Soon our battle cry will be THE WORST SCHOOL BUILDINGS IN THE COUNTRY, opps sorry we are already there. Thank God Mayor Bettencourt looks to be the only Mayor in decades that hopes to fix this issue.

  2. Bob Croce November 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    OG, the most important thing we can do as a city right now would be to put together a strategy for sustainable growth when it comes to our commercial tax base. When I see us grabbing quick cash with things like billboard permits, it concerns me that we still aren’t working toward an overall, long-term strategy.

  3. Anonymous November 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Homes are selling because we have a young Mayor that is actually doing something positive. I have heard a lot of people that are actually interested in moving back to Peabody for the first time because the families are going to get a fare shake with not having a 0% increase in the schools. You have a new middle school and the opportunity to go to the new voc too. The city can only provide tax incentive opportunities for business to come here. You bring the schools respect level higher that will bring a demand for housing prices…Business only up a city hedge against that…The argument is easy when you compare us to other cities and towns that have strong schools but very little businesses…

  4. Bob Croce November 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    But those communities that have very little business and outstanding schools are also upper upper middle class to wealthy communities where people don’t mind paying incredibly high property taxes.

    We need revenue in order to build great schools. And the only way to get a lot of revenue is by getting more in taxes. So I ask you: would you rather expand the commercial tax base, or dramatically raise taxes on homeowners?

    Keep in mind, we’re a fairly middle class community with a lot of seniors on fixed incomes. and a lot of low income families. We need to find the best of both worlds here. We definitely want great schools, but we also want to make sure Peabody remains affordable. A town like Acton has very little business and outstanding schools, but their average household income is also about 75k more a year than it is in Peabody.

    As for the mayor, I think he’s doing a very good job so far. But it’s not his age that’s going to fix Peabody’s fiscal problems. It’s the strategy he chooses. I think he’s smart enough to put us on the right track, but there has to be a strategy around revenue growth, and around expanding out tax base. Otherwise, your only option is to either have lousy schools, or dramatically raise taxes on homeowners. Why not let business growth help us get there? If you do it right, more business growth can also mean the revitalization of Peabody Square too,

    Imagine having great schools, and a great downtown, where people go to enjoy themselves. Then we’d really be improving quality of life.

  5. the Outfront Guy* November 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    I have to agree with you Batman on most of what you are saying–and this Anon poster is surely an optimist…he sees us with a young Mayor and feels all wonderful inside…he talks about a new middle school and a new Vocational option but OG simply sees those things as ‘down the road’ issues that MAY help out Dark City with our weary educational image but talk to me when they both are in existence and operating…right now I am dealing with the current reality and I too find it hard to see what the strategy may be to boost the commercial tax base in this slowly improving economy…but let us take another view of this issue and perhaps we should be playing the soundtrack from Mission:Impossible instead of whistling dixie since our average household income is always going to temper and limit what may be affordable here in Dark City. The young families who want to compare us to the local well to do towns will continue to see that we may not ever find the perfect balance of things here that some hope for….its just not that easy…and that’s how OG sees it.

  6. Bob Croce November 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    All I am saying, OG, is that if you want great schools, you need to find a way to pay for them. And, I just don’t think we can get there putting all of the burden on residential taxpayers. Our school infrastructure is a huge mess after years of neglect. I love that Mayor Bettencourt is trying to become the “Education Mayor.” It’s about time someone took that title. But schools are not the only neglected part of the city. This mayor inherited a crumbling city on numerous levels. If we don’t expand our commercial tax base, we’re in a lot of trouble. There is no other way to get the money we need.

  7. Anonymous November 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Bob, you talk about inheriting the crumbling city…Mayor Bonfanti did a lot of positive things for this city. You have to remember that he had to a budget that was seeing less and less state aid come into the city. The country was in an economic recession and yet Peabody continued to bring businesses into our city and we have a very high reserve fund with incredible credit ratings. There were also two new schools built in the city during his tenure.

    Everyone that makes that statement and lives in the city and believes it as a fact is also to blame. Everyone that is a taxpayer was a part of the past 10 years and I do not think they were that bad. With different leadership comes different focus’ Bettencourt has children in the schools as well as family. He like many other young families know that great schools bring in more families which creates demand on homes which means values will go up.

    We are extremely blessed with the amount of corporate taxes that come into this city. We have to been one of the highest if not the highest on the Northshore. What you need to understand is if you attempt to bleed businesses then they will just go somewhere else. Like Romney said in his campaign, you need to get them to want to create jobs which in turn will bring in more people paying taxes and hopefully if they work here they may want to live here as well.

    The one area the city could benefit is to turn two family or higher home into commercial businesses and charge them at the higher rate. The city should provide incentives to have them convert back to the one family buildings they use to be.

    There is a change coming to this city and you guys can continue to be pessimists or be a part of it and find solutions instead of complaining and making your annoying closings how OG see its…God is that annoying

  8. the Outfront Guy* November 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    hold on Anon…have any of my postings sold any prior Mayors done the river? and do you see me dropping to my knees and bowing my head in front of King Teflon Ted? you are right…all prior Mayors have done some good things during their tenure…and all prior Mayors are subject to the ebb and flow of economic times….here is my problem….people here in Dark City are basically content with being mediocre no matter what Mayor is at the helm…how many times did the Emperor and Mayor Mike remind us that we have the lowest tax rates of any city in Essex County?? this is the type of approach that sells here in Dark City with our senior voters and our blue collar mindset voters…and those voters out there who clamor for ‘change’ for the better realize that the taxpayers will probably need to pay a bit more to get it….BUT not here in Dark City…we could truly be the shining star of the North Shore but we plant ourselves right in mediocreville and then some mumble about the state of affairs and skewer the sitting Mayor at the time with criticism…so there is only one solution if you have high aspirations and high quality of life expectations here in Dark City…move somewhere else…and that my friend is how OG unfortunately sees it.

  9. Bob Croce November 20, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    I’m not being negative at all, and it’s not about “bleeding” the business base. I’m actually in favor of giving businesses large tax incentives to locate to the city. The point is, we need revenue, and we need a plan to revitalize the downtown, Route 1, and Centennial Park. It’s a straight forward formula: tax incentives get businesses to open here (and I’m not talking about barber shops and thriftshops), the commercial tax base grows, and we have the revenue to rebuild our infrastructure and schools.

    I’m sorry, Anon, but there wasn’t enough leadership during the Bonfanti era. There was a sense that we were just holding on while trying to not make things worse. He admitted it himself: he was a “steward.” But the fact was, we didn’t need a “steward.” we needed a leader.

  10. Anonymous November 20, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    So Bob, if Bonfanti was so bad, why were we one of the only cities to accumulate a such a high cash reserve, increase our bond rating, open two schools, create a beautiful walking path, watch the Northshore Mall transform into an incredible facility, amongst the many other acomplishments that were done over the 10 years he was our leader. He said he was a steward because he like many americans do not want government in your face. I am a very strong Bettencourt supporter but I also believe that Bonfanti was the right Mayor for the kind of financial problems that were occuring in America.

  11. Anonymous November 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    So based on your philosphy bettencourt cannot take credit for the Higgins since most of the planning came from Bonfanti? Also, the last time that I checked, there has been increased enrollment in AP courses and scores have been on the rise. Where and when did this all come from. The reality is the poor test scores come from areas of the city that have other challenges. Lets face the facts. The reason for the city being able to bond out for the debt of the Higgins is due to the fact that Bonfanti increased cash reserves and kept a balanced budget. To say Bettencourt has a challenging task ahead of him is humerous given the fact that a city like ours is in great shape compared to most. Dave McGenney is no prize and had he won this city would be in horrible shape. He is a lame duck on the school committee always wanting to get the first word and soundbite in. He is only loyal for as long as it serves him. If you are so concerned with scores then blame should be placed on McGenney and the rest of the school committee.. Mayors have to be adapable based on the economic climate and as far as I am concerned Bonfanti did the right thing for the city during the bad economic climate. Most of the stuff Bettncourt is leveraging is that Bonfanti performed duirng his tenure. peabody has been lucky to have the leadership that we have had over the past 30 years.

  12. Jaded November 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Anon, Mayor Bonfanti can take credit for many things, but improving the schools isn’t one of them. He can take credit for the ridiculous recess fiasco. Having to have an armed police officer at recess meetings and threaten to have mothers removed was a disgrace. Bonfanti along with Dave Gravel, Anne Manning and Dave Mcgeney were responsible for bring in the worst superintendent this city has ever seen. That resulted in
    completely destroying the moral within the teaching community.They also replaced long time principals with inexperienced kids which led to lawsuits within the city. Look I don’t want to beat this into the ground. Bonfanti and his accomplices did nothing for the schools. He did other good things for the city but he certainly wasn’t the “education Mayor”

  13. Anonymous November 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I never said Bonfanti was the education Mayor but he is not as evil as everyone portrays him. The school committee is the group that hires and fire the superintendents. They bare the full responsibility of their performance. Again, the Mayor was the right person for the job. Dave McGenney would have ruined this city and knowing that incumbents dont loose in this city, I think the city got the right person…

  14. anon November 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Mike is not an evil person, maybe a little inept as a leader, but a pretty good guy. I do agree that if Mcgeney got elected he would have ruined the city. You can’t run a city with a what’s in it for me attitude.

  15. Bob Croce November 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Mayor Bonfanti wasn’t an evil guy at all. My comments are only reflective on my review of his performance as a mayor and an employee of the taxpayers. I also think the personal attacks on Dave McGeney here are unfair and uncalled for. If you don’t think Dave would have performed well as mayor, you have a right to say it. But let’s keep the personal attacks out of our discourse here.

    I’m not going to allow this to become an attack blog like some of the previous iterations. In other words … yes, I will remove comments as necessary. We’re not there yet with this string, but we are teetering a little on the edge right now. So, let’s please keep it civil.

  16. the Outfront Guy* November 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    if my memory serves me right it was none other than Dave Gravel who chaired the Committee that actually recommended that a new high school be built vs the renovation work that was ultimately done…clearly we took the ‘cheaper’ way out and if you ever drive up by the current high school you would have to agree that it has to be one of the most architecturally less appealing buildings you will ever see…if any of you have kids involved in sports or activities which necessitates a trip to nearby high schools then you know what I am talking about …..most nearby communities have a Taj Mahal for a high school…it is a real centerpiece of their community….but here in Dark City we have a brown warehouse building tucked away up on a hill…but that’s ok here…we are content with being ok…there is no fervent desire to be great…to be outstanding…to be proud…. IF it carries a higher tax price tag to possibly get there….we want to duct tape our wallets shut but then complain how bad things are….OG saw us drive Nadine Binkley out of town…why? she had high aspirations that made us feel very uncomfortable…she wanted to shake things up…rock the boat and snap us out of our comfort zone and dull old Dark City resisted….so that we can just sit back on the recliner and watch another educational year slip off the calendar….remember this Dark City…there is no ordinary in being extraordinary.

  17. Bob Croce November 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    I don’t know if your Dave Gravel comment is correct. What I was referring to was the fact that McGeney made building a new high school a part of his campaign platform in 2001. And the Bonfanti campaign was able to use that against him, especially with seniors who were afraid that it would raise their taxes. If there is someone else out there who remembers it differently, let us know.

  18. anon November 21, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    Dave Gravel was in favor of the high school only after Peter Torigian left office. Torigian was opposed to the new high school and while he was mayor Gravel didn’t say a word. Only after he left was it safe to speak out.

  19. Anonymous November 21, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Dave McGenney is not being personally attacked, he currently resides on the school board and based on his past 18 years or so it has been mostly a lame duck session except when he wants to look good. Bob, if you are going to start deleting based on your opinion then this blog is useless. It was a fair comparision to make since you brought up McGenney in the first place.

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