HAPPY 80th Birthday tomorrow to my Mom Julia Theresa (Silva) Nutter. Mom was also married on her birthday and my parents would have been celebrating 57 years, 11 children, 13 grand children and 1 great grandchild tomorrow also.
Once again this week the Sun political column is available on the Sun’s free website.
The Team Micky Ward Charity Golf Classic is coming up on Monday, August 13, 2012 with a shotgun start at 1:00. Please consider golfing or sponsoring a hole and helping out Team Micky which helps out so many other local charities including the Salvation Army and the WCAP Radiothon. Click on the link and register to participate or sponsor.
The City of Lowell thanks in a very large part to the City Manager and his financial policies is in solid financial shape despite the number of cuts in local aid over the past 5 years and the state of the economy in general.
Property Tax has risen for 6 years but last year and this year both minimally and credit goes to the City Manager/his administration and the City Council. Most people who live in the city and pay attention to the larger picture, looking at similar cities around the state realize that Lowell is far and away in much better financial shape than most.
However this doesn’t mean that the City Manager or his Administration gets a free pass and not get asked some questions or receive some criticism. The administration has done a great job with the finances but they seem to have a glass jaw when it comes to either admitting mistakes or receiving criticism. They seem to get upset and overly defensive with people asking questions, especially if in their opinion they are correct in doing what they are doing and the people are questioning the why’s and how’s.
The latest issue (and to be honest I don’t think it is a HUGE issue, but since there isn’t a lot going on it is getting some play) revolves around setting the “preliminary” tax bill at the full 2.5% increase even when the administration knew the increase wasn’t going to be anywhere near that. Should it have been less? Yes I think so.
Why wasn’t it? The Manager and his administration so far have only answered because we can, that‘s the way we have been doing it for the past few years and my personal favorite “You just can’t win.” — Lowell Chief Financial Offi¬cer Tom Moses.
Apparently the idea is to hit the taxpayer the hardest before the Holiday Season so the January bills are a little less. It’s a simple and smart idea but when you boast that The Manager presented a budget with the lowest average tax increase since 2001 people are expecting to see that reflected in their bills.
It seems that again the word communication comes into play. Had the Manager communicated to the Council, the Sun, WCAP, City Life or a lowly blogger or even posted on his own blog letting everyone know that the preliminary bills being sent out reflected the 2.5% increase then this story would not be a story. The one criticism that this Manager has constantly received is about communication and though he does appear on WCAP and City Life and responds to Blogs (mostly) he still holds back information that could stop a lot of issues before they appear. He also needs to communicate with his 9 (NINE) bosses evenly all the time, something he has also faced criticism for.
He and his administration also have to accept that especially here in Lowell, people are always going to ask questions and wonder why things are done in certain ways and ask those questions even when the Manager and the Administration don’t like the question and disagree with the premise. To me if it looks bad or out of the norm and I’m seeing it, others are too but unlike others I ask and point it out and hopefully when an answer is given at least people have a clearer understanding.
I find is somewhat amusing that in today’s Sun there is a story titled After billing flap, calls to change how city estimates taxes – Councilors are quoted and appear upset.
When City Coun¬cilor Rita Mercier recently received her first-quarter property-tax bill for fiscal 2013, she was taken aback by the increase over her fourth¬ quarter bill from the last fiscal year. Her bill due Aug. 1 was $729.72, a $33.34 or 5 percent hike over her bill that was due May 1.
“I noticed my taxes went way up,” Mercier said Friday.
“I said ‘Holy Moses!’ ” Mercier said the increase was especially jarring because city officials had told tax¬payers following budget passage the average single-family tax bill would rise $4 to $5 in the budget year beginning July 1. She and other city councilors said Friday they agree with residents who told The Sun last week the city erred by sending out first-quarter bills reflecting a 2.5 percent increase over taxpayers’ average bills in fiscal 2012. The councilors also called on the city’s administra¬tion to alter its policy for first- and second-quarter bills.
“People were expecting to see the lower increase with those bills and it was not there,” said City Councilor Marty Lorrey. “If you are going to estimate the tax bills will go up $4 to $5, I would have preferred they not go up more than that amount in the first bill.”
Councilors Ed Kennedy and Joseph Mendonca said they were troubled by the 2.5 percent increase in the bills because City Manager Bernie Lynch’s administration knew months prior that the increase would be much lower this year.
This was not a big surprise,” said Mendonca, who is hoping by the fall the projected tax increase for the year will be wiped out.
“It could have been handled better.” Kennedy said taxpayers are the ones who suffer under the city’s current policy. “By automatically raising the tax bills 2.5 percent, what the city is doing is overtaxing the taxpayers of Lowell for no reason and it is wrong,” Kennedy said. “It is money that belongs in the taxpayers’ pocket, not the in city coffers as overtax.”
Yet if you look at the City Council Agenda where is the “call to change how city estimates taxes?” On this Tuesday night agenda, not one of the 4 councilors quoted has a motion to formally request a change in policy. The first story about this came out Thursday and Councilor Kennedy is quoted in it. They have until noon on Friday to submit motions for the following Tuesdays Agenda. What are they waiting for?
I’m shocked but I applaud the SUN for actually reporting that “The U.S. Depart¬ment of Housing and Urban Development has declined to over¬ride the Lowell Housing Author¬ity’s decision to deny a Sun reporter and photographer access to the North Common Village to view the units having walls torn down so the work can receive city inspection and approval.” Usually the Sun states they are appealing something or another and yet don’t report back that the Manager’s, Solicitor’s or LHA rulings stand. Of course they had to finish with a shot of their own to end the story… Meanwhile, a spate of federal and state investigations into the rehab work completed from 2008 to 2011 continues.
In the You Can’t Win no matter what when you are an elected official department…I’m hearing that “some people in Dracut” think State Rep. Colleen Garry used Leo Coutu’s disappearance for political gain and overstepped her bounds. To be up front I’ve known Colleen for 30 years and have been friends with her and her family. I also participated in the search Sunday, having known Leo from my Post office days and his brother Steve from my days working for the City. The fact is Leo’s daughters reached out to her and she responded and she made a promise to that family that she would do everything she could to assist them and she did that. To those people who think it was political –you’re wrong and in my opinion it is her political opponents and/or their supporters trying to use this family’s tragedy for their own agenda’s and they not Colleen should be embarrassed and ashamed.
Shout out also to Dracut Selectman John Zimini who participated in the search keeping his involvement low key but supporting the family. I walked with John who looks great, feels good and like Colleen is a friend.
Rebecca Duda’s new book “Dracut Revisited” coming out July 16th is a great look at how the town has developed over the years. The pictures of what the town looked like and what it looks like today is fascinating and the shots of Lakeview Park with the Carousel (we used to refer to them has the “bobby-horses when I was a kid) brought back memories of family trips from my childhood. You can pick up an autographed copy from Rebecca at a book signing to be held at Shaw Farm later in July with proceeds benefitting the Dracut Scholarship Fund.
We are pleased to invite you to The 2nd Annual Shawn M. Dumont Golf Classic, to be held on Monday, August 20, 2012, at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands Golf Course, 79 Brady Avenue, Salem NH. We are hopeful that this day of golf and fundraising will become one of the premier events on the golf calendar for years to come.
The event is being held in memory of Shawn M. Dumont, who was taken from us far too early (8-18-10), as well as three other very special family members, Ronnie Dumont (2-20-11), Noah Shawn Dumont (8-17-11), and Frankie Dumont (10-4-11).
The Golf Classic day begins with registration at 8:00 a.m. followed by a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m.
The cost to participate in this Classic is $600 per foursome or $150 per player, which includes green fees, cart, steak and chicken dinner, and various refreshments and prizes. Featured will be a full day of exciting events including best ball, closest to the pin challenge, longest drive in the fairway, etc.
Without having to step out onto the course, you can still support the Shawn M. Dumont Scholarship through a direct donation or sponsorship by using the enclosed form. You may also purchase tickets for the lunch portion of the tournament at the cost of $50 per person or donate a prize to be used in our raffle.
Player spots are limited. To make your reservation, please email Mike/Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mike, Chris or Steven or email me email@example.com and someone will get back in touch with you.
Congrats and best wishes to Chris and Erin Dumont who just got married
Best of Luck to Ryan and Courtney Mills Rourke with the Opening of All Mixed Up their new Frozen Yogurt shop opening on Broadway Road in Dracut (site of the old Yum-Yum shop) next week.