Getting back from vacation and still sort through the rubble, but here's a handful of things.
First, two days later, the lead story from Sunday's Globe continues to bug me. If you missed it, the story
basically says that while property assessments are going down, property taxes are going up.
It's a nice showoff for computer-assisted reporting, and shows that the DOR stuffs a lot of interesting information on its website. Honestly, if I had the time, I'd dig around there more often, but too often just go to find something specific. But the problem with the Globe story is that it relates two things that don't really have anything to do with each other.
This has been discussed here before, but it bears repeating: Property values are only part of the equation when it comes to property taxes. The real focus needs to be on the tax levy.
The levy is the total amount a city or town can collect. As you may have heard, that amount can increase 2.5 percent plus new growth each year. As you may also have heard, most communities increase that full amount each year.
From there, the tax man calculates the total property value, and sets the tax rate. Then the tax rate is assessed on your property value. If you property value holds steady (as seems to be the case pretty much in some areas of Fitchburg lately), you're likely to pay more in taxes if the tax rate goes up (which, I belive, it did).
Simply, communities are taxing more under the provisions of 2 1/2, and with assessments declining, the tax rate gets bumped higher, which creates a higher tax bill. The tax levy is created without assessments in mind, and tying the two together is disingenuous. Sure, it sucks to see your property devalued while shelling out more in taxes, but the two really don't have anything to do with each other.
End of that particular rant.
While the Save Fitchburg Family was away, Brian Knuuttila lawn signs sprouted up all over the place it seems like. Shockingly, this race is less than a month away. It's stealthy crept up, it seems like.
I honestly am not excited about Knuuttila's chances in this one. The Memorial Day Disaster sticks out in my mind, not just in the bizarre circumstances, but also his admittance that he's going to get horribly outspent. So there's that. I also see better visibility from Flanagan at big events. Despite all that, I wonder if Knuuttila can pull off the upset, although it will be very difficult.
You'd have to think Knuuttila is going to easily carry Gardner and the towns between there and here. He has to. Absolutely has to. You'd have to think Flanagan is going to destroy Leominster and carry the towns to east and south. That leaves Fitchburg.
Knuuttila, however, can't just win Fitchburg. He has to win by huge numbers. Maybe 3-1. Maybe more.
Consider: Flanagan's chief core community is Leominster, which is twice the size of Gardner, Knuuttila's home community. Also, the only other contest race around the area is in ... Leominster, where there's a House seat (Flanagan's) being contested. So you have to think there will be more turnout there than there will be in any other community. And you's have to think that's good news for Flanagan.
So, Knuuttila is depending on a huge win in Fitchburg, where turnout could be a problem in that there's nothing else on the ballot worth noting. I would think he'll need to make up thousands of votes in Fitchburg. I wouldn't be surprised if it's 2,000 or 3,000.
Then, consider that 8,000 came out last year for the gigantic mayoral election. Will that many people come out for a state Senate race they've been paying no attention to -- and one without a local candidate (yes, Knuuttila fans, begin outburst here)? Let's say 6,000 people come out, a fairly ambitious number. Knuuttila would need to win, 4,500-1,500. Is that even possible?
Knuuttila has shown some strength in Fitchburg, and it's not silly to think he's going to win the city. But for him to win this race he's going to have to absolutely dominate in Fitchburg. If you like him, you'd better get out and vote for him.
Finally, while away, I read the RFP for North and Main has been extended. If you're a conspiracy theorist on that particular situation, you're beside yourself. I wonder what exactly is going on here (part of coming back from vacation means you can't track stuff down immediately, only wonder what's up). If you want a CVS in there tomorrow, this is not good news in that you'd have to think that bid proposal was pretty easy to write. In theory, this delay keeps the door open for some other kind of development. I don't know what the deal is, but sometimes even though there are good intentions, appearances make things look a sketchy. I think this might be one of those times where appearances look bad. Who knows, maybe in a month there will some private developer making a bid that blows everyone way. But if there's a low-ball, non-pharmacy developer who ends up winning this process, let the howling begin.
Labels: North and Main, Senate seat, Taxes