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Billerica Taxpayers Association – Candidate Assessments

“The lack of Candidate participation in Taxpayer Questionaire sends a signal of lack of concern or contempt for the Taxpayers concerns.  This seems to be a common theme that runs throughout the system of public service — from local Government to Congress”.

March 2010

In the spirit of supporting an informed electorate the Billerica Taxpayers Association (BTA) sent questionnaires to Billerica Selectmen Candidates.  The questionnaire was structured to measure each candidate’s commitment to the principles of sound fiscal and tax policy within the town of Billerica and their willingness to work closely with our state and community representatives to communicate and promote the needs of Billerica residents. 

Four Candidates are running for two open Selectmen positions.  Only one of the four candidates running for Selectman responded to the BTA questionnaire.  Mike Rosa was that candidate and has demonstrated on many occasions a strong commitment to the principles of sound fiscal and tax policy in Billerica.  He receives an overall Taxpayer Friendly rating of “Good” from the Billerica Taxpayers Association.  The Selectman Questionnaire scored candidate answers to questions designed to assess six critical areas of suitability.   These were: 1. Commitment to reduce the rate of growth in taxes and spending.  2. Understanding of the challenges facing Billerica and how they would address them.  3.  Understanding of the roles and responsibilities of selectmen.  4.  Understanding and support for strict conflict of interest and ethics standards.  5.  Support for a more disciplined and structured budget development and justification process.

Of the remaining candidates running for Selectman all refused to participate in the Taxpayer assessment or refused to communicate with the Billerica Taxpayers Association.  

There are four candidates vying for the two open seats on the School Committee. However, only two of the four responded to the BTA questionnaire.  Those candidates were Sandra Giroux and Ann-Marie Norman.  Sandra Giroux received an overall Taxpayer Friendly rating of “Good” from the BTA while Ann-Marie Norman received an overall Taxpayer Friendly rating of “Poor” from the BTA.  A key component of the poor rating was Ann-Marie’s potential for conflict of interest which is of serious concern to the BTA, because of the School Committee’s current predominate makeup of individuals that have a high potential for conflict of interest issues.  The School Committee is currently dominated by people belonging to or closely associated with municipal unions or work for companies doing business with the Town or School Departments.  The BTA feels that a committee with a more independent and conflict free makeup would ensure that Taxpayer interests are represented and that our investment in infrastructure was properly maintained. 

The remaining candidates running for School committee did not respond to the BTA questionnaire.

The Planning Board has three open seats with five candidates vying for those seats. Four of the five candidates participated in the BTA assessment.  Robert Casey, Rome Capobianco, David Savinao and David Kinsella responded to the BTA questionnaire.  All four received a BTA rating of “Average” with less than a few percentage points of difference between the candidates.

 The BTA also sent a questionnaire to the candidate running unopposed for Town Moderator, Mr, Gilbert Moreira.  Based on his response, Mr. Moreia received an overall Taxpayer Friendly rating of “Good” from the BTA.  One key area we would have like to see Gil improve is the establishment of a fair and balanced committee appointment process that selects the best qualified candidate, with documented selection criteria.

 The BTA does not endorse candidates.  Instead, the BTA rates candidates for their relative suitability in supporting the principles of sound fiscal and tax policy within the town of Billerica.  Please visit the BTA’s website and learn more about the BTA (www.billericabta.wordpress.com) and view the Candidate Questionnaire and Responses.  The BTA asks that all residents of Billerica take the time to be informed and exercise their right to vote.

Go to Cadidate Response Page for more detail:

Selectmen:

Parker School_jim_gl_rev

The Billerica Taxpayers Association has decided to fight the PArker School debt exclusion prop. 2.5 override.

Our reasons are many. Some of which are:

1) Government just seems to never do without. Taxes are being raised at all levels of government. The sales tax was just increased and next year the President George Bush tax cuts will expire.

2)One of our missions is for transparency in government. One quick look at the make up of the Parker School Building Committee tells us that we have a problem here.  Out of the 13 members, at least 7 are school or town employees. An eighth is a school committee member who’s husband is a town employee and she also does business with the school department as an independent contractor for the school buses. Because of these 8 people, if you vote for the override the school gets built outside of the budget freeing up money within the budget as well as the bonding capacity to pay for their own employee contracts. Conflict of interest anyone?

3) The Parker School Building Committee willfully witheld information from Town Meeting regarding a 400 student, 72,000square foot school for $22 million dollars. See their minutes for the April 29, 2009 meeting pages 5 and 6.  We could have paid for this school within the budget and our bonding capacity.

 

 

 

By: Jim Mollison

 Camelot beckons reflections of an idyllic and fictional time that emerged from the dark ages of barbarism, superstition and hopelessness.  It beckons us to a time of hope and optimism, and provides lessons to learn about the acceptance of an aristocracy – elected or appointed. 

With the passing of the so called “Last  Lion of Democracy”, we now witness an end to an era of a family idolatry elevated to the romantic vision of Arthurian fiction, as represented by the famed castel on the hill – Camelot.  However, just as in the legend, imperfect man       betrays the utopian age of light and allows the darkness of envy, greed, jealousy and entitlement to infect and ultimately destroy Camelot’s impossible dream. 

As John Kennedy represented hope in a time when the world faced the darkness of a mushroom cloud of nuclear war and the threat of rapidly spreading communism, Ted represented the ultimate end to a dream that never was.  Though, John was not a perfect man by any means, his passing created the fiction of Camelot.   But, it was only a façade to cajole the people with hope and create an aura of nobility and romance as depicted by the use of the term Camelot.   It was a childlike vision of enlightened aristocracy selflessly serving the people and reminiscent of the throngs of followers lining the streets of England as the Royals pass by. Of course, this image of nobility was nurtured and reinforce by the Democratic Party, for obvious reasons.

Not being a native of Massachusetts, I have often wondered how the people could revert to elevating a family to nobility status as if, attempting to find a substitute to the royal family, lost upon their immigration to the United States.  Is the concept of royalty and being subjects, so instilled that people must live their unfulfilled lives through the envy and worship of a made-up aristocracy?  

For Ted, Camelot’s fiction was his ticket to fulfillment.  The people’s vote was only a formality, as it was a given that his brother’s Senate seat belong to him.   Despite his seriously flawed character, his coronation to the Senate was assured through the blind and adoring eyes of his subjects in Massachusetts. 

Was he a man of the people or was he just another knight of the roundtable who undeservedly inherited his title?  Having never held a real job outside of government and having lived a life of entitlement as a child, he continued that existence throughout his entire adult life.  Elected nine times to the Senate, he has spent a lifetime elevated by his subjects to the level of elected aristocracy.  Just as Camelot’s flaws are exposed to the light of reality and the imperfections of man, so we see the same imperfections with Ted.

Many believe that Ted did wonderful things for the common man.  Just the statement “the common man” — which, is routinely invoke by those that supposedly attempt to improve his lot in life, demonstrates an elitist attitude.  How is separating people into classes and groups and pitting one against the other, different from the concept of commoner and royalty?  I can find little that Ted has done or tried to do, that does not emphasize differences or pits one group against another — a common tactic for those that cater to special interest groups. Basically, Ted has spent his life, peddling influence, writs and gifts using other people’s money.  He was no closer to the common man than Marie Antoinette was to her subjects.  Through his generosity with other people’s money and his invocation of the often distorted purpose of the General Welfare clause in the Constitution, he destroyed or damaged many of the liberties we once freely enjoyed.  Ted was a willing participant in the generational theft and servitude of the people he supposedly served.  He basked in the adoration of the ignorant while flinging leftover cake crumbs to his adoring subjects.

The lessons of Camelot will be learned over and over.  What did the romantic story of Camelot really tell?  It tells that man is imperfect and to bestow unchecked power to an elite few that supposedly govern with selfless and altruistic motivations is a recipe for disaster.  The end result will be the darkness of perpetual servitude.  We see it today in the condescending attitude and words of our elected aristocracy with “shut up! — we know what’s best for you”.  How dare we question our elected elite! 

Have we devolved from the concept of a servant government to the age of Camelot and the “Divine Right of Kings”?  Are they no longer accountable to the people?

James Mollison is a retired Air Force Officer, Town Meeting Representative and President of the Billerica Taxpayer’s Association

  • Fiscal Year 2009 revenue total revenue was approximatly $133 million
    • Propery Tax revenue = $85.7 Million
  • Estimated Total Revenue for FY 2010 = $129 Million
    • Estimated Property Tax Revenue = $88.6 Million (an increase of about 3.3%  from fiscal year 2009.
  • Annual increase in Property Tax Revenue year to year starting from FY 2006
    • 2006 to 2007 was a 4.6% increase in revenue
    • 2007 to 2008 was a 4.3% increase in revenue
    • 2008 to 2009 was a 4.2% increase in revenue

Below is a depiction of how the revenue is used as a percentage of the budget:

Billerica Expenditures as a Percentage of Budget

Boston Common and Lowell Tea Party

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