Raises that should get a rise out of we the Peabody taxpayers

4 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Quick! Raise your hand if you have ever in your career received a 25% pay raise that wasn’t tied to a promotion? And … after just one year on the job!

government-spending1Well, the good times are rolling for a couple of Peabody city employees, department heads who only recently ascended to their positions.

Calling it an issue of parity, Mayor Bettencourt actually got the City Council to approve hefty raises for the new building inspector and the director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. Each will see their annual pay go from about $84K to $100K.

No slight intended to those folks personally  (after all, who among us would turn down an extra $16K in his/her paycheck?)  But in these days when we the people are about to absorb a 17th straight year of seeing our property taxes increase, these raises are gross, grosser, grossest.

In just a few weeks, the Mayor will come before the City Council and ask for yet another property tax increase. He’ll say how it’s just going up a little on average. The cost of five pizzas a month? And don’t forget, we still have one of the lowest tax rates on the North Shore!

Woo hoo! I guess it doesn’t matter that — over the past 10 years — these so-called little increases have collectively raised the average Peabody property tax bill by more than 50%. And, there’s no end in sight to these increases as we continue to stumble and bumble when it comes to finding ways to increase our commercial tax base by bringing more attractive businesses to our ghost downtown, or our outdated Centennial Industrial Park.

Senior citizens are seeing their incomes go down while their taxes continue to increase, causing them to fear that they won’t be able to afford the homes they worked so hard for all of their lives. Young families, who scraped and saved to buy that starter home in Peabody, continue to feel squeezed by these annual increases too.

Look, I get it when taxes are raised because the city is struggling to pay for a much-needed new middle school, and that we can’t get out of a horrible decision to join and pay for the new mega voke in Middleton. I get it when the rising cost of healthcare, tied to collective bargaining agreements, makes it necessary to ask the taxpayers for more dough.

But raises like these are salt in our taxpaying open wounds!

It’s just another example, in a long list of them these days, of how our city’s government continues to not live within its means while passing the extra tax burden on to us.

I mean, it isn’t just these two recent inappropriate raises. Salary increases have been proposed at a fast and furious rate lately at City Hall. Do we really need multiple part-time city solicitors at individual salaries of more than $100K each? Many seemingly unnecessary positions have also been added to the payroll the past seven years at a time where we should be freezing government spending, and participating in some austerity.

Until we figure out how to raise more commercial tax revenues while not putting additional burdens on the resident taxpayers, there should be a hiring and raise increase freeze when it comes to any position in the city that doesn’t involve public safety (e.g., police and fire). Sorry, but when you are a public employee, living off taxpayer money, this is the bargain you just need to accept.

The one lone vote against the increase was Ward 5 Councilor Joel Saslaw. Councilors Barry Sinewitz and Anne Manning-Martin couldn’t attend the meeting, but my hunch — based on their past actions in standing by the taxpayers — is that they would have objected too.

By the way? Because the council last year approved AUTOMATIC pay raises annually for all city employees not covered by a collective bargaining agreement, these two department heads will get another 2% increase come next July.

Think about that as you struggle each day in your private sector job where — when the business isn’t doing well — you get no raise at all.

17 Responses to “Raises that should get a rise out of we the Peabody taxpayers”

  1. Anonymous November 4, 2016 at 2:23 pm #

    They get automatic 2% raises now? Whatever happened to raises based on merit? Now even the salaried staff get the same raise regardless of whether they are doing a good job or not? May as well just start a manager’s union. Where’s the incentive to show up and actually work every day. My tax dollars at work. These people have no interest in looking out for the taxpayers. That argument about having the lowest taxes is a worthless one too. That isn’t how you justify another increase on top of all the others. Sorry Bob but Ted’s a clown.

  2. Anon in Peabody November 4, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

    Retroactive of course. (Come next July)

  3. Undahcovah brothuh November 4, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

    Well if everyone’s buddy Teddy thinks it is ok to just pass out $17k raises, then we must be doing good enough to not have our taxes raised! We will see!

  4. Barbara Guillette November 5, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    When I ran for mayor against Bonfanti , everyone thought it was a joke , but me. I would of kept the taxpayer pocketbook as my number one priority, the only one to lose in that election was the taxpayers . BJG

  5. Anonymous November 7, 2016 at 2:52 pm #

    WHO is watching out for the taxpayers in this city ? only one no vote ? remember outrageous acts like this next time we vote for our city government.

    • Peabody Wikileaks November 7, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

      All of the councilman are told before the meeting how to vote! They are even promised favors in return! Who does this call come from? Straight from the mayor!! Ask your local councilor if he is a truthful person, he will tell it just like I typed it, because it is the truth. Not to mention… all of these slamdunk deals are now taken care of in subcommittees, everyone knows the outcome before the meeting even happens! Why do you think the newspapers no longer show up and follow the meetings?? When is the last time you saw something in the Salem News about Peabody government?? Peabody is not a democracy any longer. One man calls the shots and pulls the puppets strings.

  6. Anon in Peabody November 7, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    The city council will be voting on our next property tax rate, aka tax increase, Dec 1st. Just another price of coffee at the new city paid new coffee shop on Main St. Nothing new here folks… Just keep paying your taxes. Feed the trough.

  7. PVMHS Hall of SHAME November 7, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

    Since Bettencourt was elected mayor in 2011 my taxes have gone up by over $2000! I am dis-appointed in myself for not voting for his opponent. Actually we would probably be better off with Bonfanti, at least he drove his own vehicle, made the coffee at city hall and never took a raise! I here the new Emperor shows up late every day. He needs an opponent!!

    • anonymous November 7, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

      Good luck finding an opponent. When you are either related to or friends with half the city you can basically do whatever you want and not have to worry about getting re-elected.

      • Scott B November 14, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

        How much is the fradulent Superintendent search going to cost?

  8. Anonymous November 30, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    How is this even possible? What has she done at the Parks Director done that has been a major shift with previous Directors? I would really like to see those lists of accomplishments, Have you seen the local parks? They are in rough shape. Symphony park is a good example. Of course the Mayor praised for the new hoop nets and resurfacing but the rest of the park is a mess. The fields and tracks are in awful shape. The rec programs are average at best. Not seeing anything innovative in the brochures. With regards to forestry, there are way too many streets in need of new trees. You would think some of the areas are new development because the lack of trees in the neighborhoods.

    With regards to the newer position, how did the city get the salary of this position so wrong? Where’s the 5 year plan on the city buildings with the punch list of items that will need to be taken care of?

    This is making me very frustrated because the schools are a mess and we pay the people that are supposed to oversee the facilities more money with no real change. The mayor has enemies but they are too afraid to challenge him.

    • anonymous January 4, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

      More importantly, if these two employees are so good, then why did they agree to take these positions at a salary that was below “parity”? Ted may have enemies but I doubt they are afraid to challenge him, it’s more likely they know it’s hopeless running against him because he has a guaranteed voting base that they can’t overcome. Unless he commits a serious crime we are stuck with him for as long as he wants the job, probably even then.

  9. Anonymous January 4, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

    my taxes are OVER 4 K a year now . Thank you Peabody government ! South Peabody

    • Anonymous February 8, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

      look at how well they are using those tax dollars. The plow job last night was a disaster and they waited the longest they could to sand the streets. There were a bunch of accidents and they put children at risk. Herb must be on vacation today and his asst cant make a decision to save her life so they didn’t delay the schools…I hope someone sues this city for any injuries…So you have the police who can contact DPW and the Superintendent of the road hazards???Think they actually communicate or is there a rule the King of the schools cant be contacted before 6am? This is the second time in a month that the city has done this with the ice on a week day…Hoping the sun will melt it and save them resources…

  10. Now Poorer Peabody Taxpayer February 14, 2017 at 11:02 am #

    Eye On,

    Just read the Salem News today. This is a must read for Peabody taxpayers! See below a portion from the paper:

    “In total, 56 members of the Police Department — more than half the force — and 39 members of the Fire Department earned more than $100,000. There were also 18 light plant workers out of the 149 city employees who cracked $100,000. The highest paid firefighter was Deputy Chief Richard Nelson (12th), who earned $164,650 — base pay of $94,785 plus $48,817 in overtime and $21,049 in other earnings.”

    This mayor see nothing wrong with this and is probably looking for another pay raise for himself. Meanwhile the Electric Light Commissioners are requesting a pay raise AGAIN so (I suppose) they can be eligible for lifetime benefits too. So much for: “Serving for the good of the community.”

    Maybe the Mayor should read this link below:

    http://patch.com/massachusetts/peabody/heres-median-household-income-essex-county-latest-census-data

    Here’s the Lead:

    “PEABODY, MA — Median household earnings in Essex County dipped downward last year, counter to the positive trends seen at the state and national level.”

    “Annual census data made public Thursday shows that in Essex County, median household income climbed from $70,366 in 2014 to $68,455 in 2015, new numbers show.”

    Note: Household income DROPPED to $68K. (Typo, I suppose)

    Meanwhile raises for EVERYONE on the Peabody Payroll. Let the good times roll!

    • anon February 14, 2017 at 9:32 pm #

      Why is a deputy chief even eligible for OT? He’s supposed to be management. In the real world that means you are on salary, no OT pay even if you work extra. No problem with guys working details and stuff. Someone has to do it. Light commission is a farce.

  11. SaraB February 14, 2017 at 11:17 am #

    You got that right! The School department is in shambles!!! Lefty Levine has teddy boy fooled and the rest of school committee are self absorbed ego maniacs, especially Rossignol and Brandi honey!

    What has happened to our school district ? No organization, no management, no accountability!!!!

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