Tax increases becoming a Peabody holiday tradition

7 Dec

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

So, I know that we need the money to run the city, and certainly we can argue all day whether Peabody has a spending problem, a revenue problem, or – most likely – both.

santa

After raising taxes for the 17th straight year, Peabody’s leaders deserve a lump of coal from this guy.

But tonight, during the city council meeting at Wiggin Auditorium, Mayor Ted Bettencourt – who since his watch began in 2012 has raised taxes on residents every year – will step to the mic during the annual tax classification hearing, and give us all another great, big holiday kiss.

In what has become an annual refrain in this space since we first started aggravating the powers that be five years ago . . . Merry Christmas, Peabody residents, your taxes are going up again.

Now, I don’t plan to dissect the budget in today’s missive, and talk about why we must endure yet another increase (I’ll let the mayor do that). And, please keep in mind that this hasn’t only been a Bettencourt problem.

After 20 years of not raising taxes under the reign of Powerful Pete Torigian, we’ve since endured 17 straight years of annual residential increases. So . . . we can also give some of the dubious “credit” to Mike Bonfanti.  Following many years of frugal management by a mayor who one legendary local scribe used to call “the Emperor,” Bonfanti racked up 11 straight years of tax increases.

Since I don’t want to steal the current mayor’s thunder by giving all the gory details, tune into PAT Channel 9 tonight, starting at 7 to learn about Teflon Ted’s gift that keeps on giving. But here are some of the lowlights:

  • The average Peabody residential tax bill will go up by $142, but since that calculation considers every residential property in the city, get ready to be wacked much worse if you live in a house that is valued above $400K (which includes most of the homes west of Route 1).

 

  • The average annual tax bill is now more than $4,100, a 20% increase since Bettencourt took office in 2012. Although these modest increases don’t seem like much on an annual basis, most of us are paying close to $700 more a year in property taxes since the first Bettencourt budget.

 

  • Since 2001, the average Peabody resident tax bill has almost doubled. That’s right, an almost 100% increase since Torigian left office.

Now, the mayor tonight is likely to try and soften the blow by talking about higher property values, and how our taxes are still lower on average than most other North Shore communities.

But the property value argument (raising city wide property assessments is how they got to the increase number), won’t be a benefit to seniors on fixed incomes, who plan to live in their home until death do them part. People living on Social Security and Medicare have legitimate fears that – if taxes continue to increase – they won’t be able to live out their lives in the homes they worked so hard to own outright. Or, that higher taxes will force them to choose between food or medications. And, I’ll remind the mayor and our city councilors that 85% of residents over the age of 70 always vote.

As for the “we’re still one of the lowest taxed on the North Shore” argument? Well, that and five bucks will get you a nice Holiday Latte at Starbuck’s. Peabody seniors don’t pay taxes in Salem, Danvers or Lynnfield, so that argument is about as relevant as Al Franken’s next vote in the Senate.

At the end of the day, I think all we’d like is a solution. As my colleague Dick Jarvis, himself a senior living on a fixed income, said last night on our “You Make the Call” TV show on PAT: “Why can’t government do what the rest of us do: Live within our means?” In other words, what would be so wrong with the mayor saying: “We’re just going to have to tighten our belt, and not raise taxes again this year, and I’m asking my department heads to come to me with a budget proposal that is 5% less than last year?”

It’s what Torigian would have done.

Here’s hoping that, as he’s delivering yet another tax increase “kiss” tonight that Ted says, “read my lips, no tax increase next year.”

But since the track record indicates otherwise, we highly doubt it.

9 Responses to “Tax increases becoming a Peabody holiday tradition”

  1. Anonymous December 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    Someone has to pay for the new superintendents salary, her new asst. and Herbies consulting fee’s…

    • anonymous December 7, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

      So she gets an asst AND Levine as a consultant? Remind me again how this is even a remotely good deal? How can anyone on that school committee or in the mayor’s office say with a straight face that this is good for the schools or the taxpayers, neither of which, at this point, seem to matter one iota to these arrogant fools.

  2. Anonymous December 7, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    Bet you wished the “emperor” was back!

  3. Anonymous December 7, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    I have said it before and I will say it again, Peter T screwed up big and tightened the budgets so much things that really needed to be fixed were not. Left a mess for Mike B and I was not a fan of Mike and he was not a fan of me but he was handed a broken city. Now Mike B in my opinion did not do enough to keep things cost effective and raised taxes but also allowed budgets to grow out of control. Insert Ted B he was handed a bigger disaster than Mike was, budgets out of control, spending out of control, buildings in disrepair and a school department that sucks so much money from the city due to the mismanagement over many years that Ted has no choice but to keep raising taxes. So here is my opinion the voters yes the Life Long Residents of Peabody should all look in the mirror because in the end you wanted the title of Lowest Taxes on the North Shore and you never looked ahead far enough to see you were going to get screwed. So I am sorry if the Elderly residents are having issues right now 30 years ago they were enjoying their low taxes and spending their cash if they had planned ahead and voted for the right people maybe just maybe they would be OK now.

    • Anonymous December 7, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

      Right on…

    • anon December 7, 2017 at 8:41 pm #

      Wow, you must be a freaking genius! You know that all these people wanted to have the lowest taxes around so they could piss away all their cash? Thirty years ago those now elderly people on fixed incomes probably bought homes here because it was affordable. If anything they viewed low taxes as one more thing that enabled them to buy a house in the first place, as most people would. The fact that they, or anyone else, are on fixed incomes is going to play strongly into how they view tax increases, as will you someday. It’s the job of the elected officials to look ahead far enough to make sure the city doesn’t get screwed. Taxes go up every year but we get less for it. After a while the present administration has to own the problem. Ted wastes money better than either of the predecessors you mention. This school super situation is a perfect example, along with the raises he gives out like candy. Even worse than the tax situation though is the way business gets done in the good ol’ boy network, again the superintendent soap opera over the last few years is a perfect example. You can’t blame that on anyone but Ted.

      • Anonymous December 8, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

        LMAO. Blame Ted and blame the politicians for not looking ahead and it’s not the citizens fault at all? But you do understand the Citizenship votes and they never vote anyone out? So yes it is the citizens fault and they have accepted over the years lower taxes with out thinking about the future. Time to pay up sorry you are now on a fixed income but you should have been ready for that.

  4. Anonymous December 8, 2017 at 10:18 pm #

    anon some day you will be old

    • Anonymous December 10, 2017 at 9:34 pm #

      Yes some day and shame on me if I don’t have my ducks in row!!!! I won’t be blaming people I voted for that’s for sure.

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