Guest Op-Ed: the Real Cost of Mayor Demaria’s Government

It costs more per person to run the city of Everett than any other city in Greater Boston. That’s a fact. And it’s a sad fact for local residents.  When you combine the high cost of government with the highest commercial industrial tax rate in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts you have a city with a very bleak economic future.

We spent nearly $4,100 per person in Fiscal Year 2013 to operate city government in Everett.  Compare that with $2,979 per person for Malden; $2,648 for Medford; $3,054 for Revere for and $2,915 for Somerville.

These costs were calculated using tax information obtained through the website of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.  Each city’s annual budget was divided by its population.  For Everett, the 2013 Budget number was $169,794,446, which was then divided by 41,667, the 2010 census population.  The result was the $4,075 per person cost.

That Everett is the most expensive city government is startling given that we are the smallest community in the area and we have considerably less streets and roads to maintain.  There are only 64 miles of roads in Everett; Malden has 109 and Medford 139.  Yet, both of those communities spend less per person than Everett.

Why is Everett so expensive?  It’s simple.  The administration has been unable to manage this city effectively.  Despite all of the “press releases” in our so-called newspapers to the contrary, the Department of Revenue numbers don’t lie, this mayor is spending more money per person than any other mayor in Greater Boston.  He spends about $1,400 more per person than the Mayor of Medford does.

And for those of you who may be wondering, Everett is actually closer in per person government costs to Westwood than we are to our neighbors in Greater Boston.  Westwood’s per person cost was $5,013 per person in Fiscal Year 2013.  That’s slightly under $1,000 more than Everett.   We’re actually $1,096 per person more than Malden and $1,427 per person more than Medford.

And by the way, the average family in Westwood earns about $150,000 per year.  Family income in Everett averages $59,942 annually.  Common sense tells us we should be more comparable to Malden and Medford’s per person costs than Westwood’s.

But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of common sense in the corner office these days.  Just look at our tax rates.  During the current administration the residential property tax rate in Everett has risen from $11.18 in FY 2009 to the current $15.64.  Our commercial/industrial tax rate is a whopping $43.04!  That is the highest in the Commonwealth.

When taken together, the Mayor’s inability to operate city government effectively coupled with the state’s highest commercial/industrial tax rate combine to crush meaningful new development in this city.  There has been very little new residential or industrial growth in this city for the past 6 years.  With the exception of two years of increase in personal property growth, the city’s ability to attract new businesses is nil.

New growth is the lifeblood of any city or town.  We’ve been told over and over that the city has commissioned study after study and the future is bright, but the future is now.

Self-serving good news stories don’t reduce tax rates.   Studies don’t produce new growth.  The only growth they produce is in the author of the study’s wallet.  We need hard work and common sense.  The problem is this mayor hasn’t shown that he’s a big fan of either one.

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