Four members of the Board of Aldermen picked the wrong time and place to draw the line in the sand when they voted down on Monday night the transfer of $4 million from the Stabilization Account to give immediate tax relief to commercial and residential property owners.
These Aldermen cannot be faulted for trying to cut money from the budget rather than take money from a savings account.
However, the time to cut the budget was in June before these very same aldermen voted to approve this very same budget with all the very same expenses that they are now trying to cut.
As a country, as citizens and as workers, we are in the worst economy since the Great Depression.
Nearly all of the measures that the federal government has put into force to jumpstart the economy have been at best anemic.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ budget is still in the red after huge cuts to local aid. Next year, there is already a projected $2 billion deficit that will require further cuts in programs affecting local aid.
The very reason that Mayor DeMaria proposed the withdrawal from this Stabilization Account is the fact that local aid receipts that pay for police, fire, health costs and schools are down. The Stabilization Accounts of all other cities and towns in Massachusetts have been tapped into extensively and in some communities are now empty as local leaders tried to patch together solutions to keep libraries open, maintain adequate levels of police and fire staffing and keep education alive in the schools.
But, time has run out. The national economy that affects the state economy and that greatly impacts Everett’s economy has not returned. There is no job creation or expansion of the local economy. Foreclosures are up and projected to be higher next year. Many people are facing very cold houses or the inability to use their cars as fuel costs rise by leaps and bounds.
As Aldermen Sachetta pointed out $300 is the difference for many homeowners between having heating oil in the tank or gas in the car.
Yet, the aldermen voted not to do this.
And the same logic can be used for businesses struggling to stay afloat as the bulk of the benefit would have gone to commercial tax bills. It is ironic that the very businesses that Alderman Joseph McGonagle talks about helping with tax relief almost at every meeting, on Monday night he voted not to help.
The city budget should be reviewed. If cuts can be made, then they should be made today. Then the money could be left as free cash that would be certified in September 2011. But these savings would not help local taxpayers in January like the tapping of the Stabilization Fund would have and which is earning almost nothing in interest as it sits in banks.
A possible solution should have been to approve the transfer yet have a gentlemen’s agreement with Mayor and the Aldermen to cut this year’s budget and have this money remain as free cash and once certified then returned to the Stabilization Fund.
However, this type of informal agreement does not seem to be able to exist between the Aldermen and DeMaria.
DeMaria seems to be willing to make this type of informal agreement – why not the Aldermen?
In this Mexican standoff between the Aldermen and DeMaria, the biggest losers are the taxpayers – again.
We urge the Aldermen to sit down and hammer out an agreement. However, it is too late for any impact in January.
The Aldermen do not have to like it nor does DeMaria, but just the same as President Obama and the Republicans accomplished last week a compromise will have to be reached and local taxpayers will be served.
This is not time for posturing.