Sun Editorial attempts to misplace blame on tax increase

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Today or is it yesterday in the Sun’s world? The Sun runs an Editorial Delaying tax hikes only increases the pain in which they try to lay blame the current city tax increase on former Manager Lynch with support from previous Councils.

It’s the largest year-to-year jump since 2007, according to figures provided by the city.

Why? Well former City Manager Bernie Lynch and the City Council made a bargain in the previous two fiscal years not to raise residential property taxes. So in fiscal 2013 and 2014, the tax levy — the total amount that can be raised from property taxes — increased over the previous year soley through revenue from new economic growth.

In other words, taxpayers’ bills remained virtually the same.

Like artificial sweeteners, it felt good going down, but was it fiscally healthy in the long run?

The fact is Manager Lynch, to use Sun Editor Chris Scott’s words ” Sounded the Fiscal Alarm” in 2011 about the City Councils decision (bold mine)

Manager Lynch sounds fiscal alarm Posted by sunthecolumn on November 21st, 2011

First Column Blog of the Thanksgiving Week courtesy of City Hall Reporter Lyle Moran
City Manager Bernie Lynch says he will adhere to the City Council’s vote last month to use $1 million of an additional $1.5 million in state aid to reduce property taxes if they still want him to do so, but the manager is warning the move is not a “prudent financial practice.”

In a memo released to city councilors Friday, Lynch also says he will use $500,000 of the supplemental local aid from the state to increase the city’s snow-and-ice removal budget.
Lynch said the $1 million reduction in the expected rise in the tax levy will reduce the planned average increase in single-family property-tax bills from $86 to $54.
But if the council asks Lynch to take similar tax-relief measures in the future, the manager says the move will put the city in financial trouble.

“… I feel compelled to warn the Council that this is similar to the actions that brought about state oversight in the early 1990s, had brought us to the brink of financial collapse and put us on the state watch list five years ago, and a policy direction that has eroded financial stability in at least one of our neighboring cities.”

The $1 million reduction in the expected rise in taxes was proposed by Councilor Edward “Bud” Caulfield, who argued city taxpayers can’t afford Lynch’s policy of raising property taxes 2.5 percent a year.

The Sun showcased in 2010 that even though Lynch was painted as a Tax crazed Manager, Former State Rep. then Manager Cox increased taxes more than Lynch. (a trait we may be seeing in former State Rep. current Manager Murphy)

Mon, 25 Jan 2010, 08:35 AM
The city’s average, single-family tax bill has increased 7.5 percent from 2008-2010, compared to a 29 percent increase from 2005 to 2007. During the 2005-2007 period, the residential tax levy increased from $53,979,232 to $65,690,730, or 21.7 percent. Since that time, the residential levy has increased to $70,331,492, a 7.1 percent increase over the past three years.

In 2011 they showed how their then soon to be Sunflower led the charge to stop tax increases:

Wed, 05 Jan 2011,
Elliott said he voted against passing Lynch’s proposed budget in June because “people cannot afford it anymore.”During budget deliberations, Elliott suggested an across-the-board cut of 2.5 percent to every line item, which Broderick said is not feasible.
“We cannot just not pay 2.5 percent of our utility bills,” he said. “It doesn’t work. What are we going to do, not plow the streets?”

Elliott took exception to Broderick’s comments.”At least I walk the walk,” Elliott said. “When I campaign, when I say we need to reduce taxes and cut spending, that is what I do. Just speak the truth — that is what it is about.”

Even Elliott’s former publicist/ Sun cub reporter Lyle Moran touted Elliot’s stand to not raise taxes in his puff re-election profile in 2013

Lowell SUN 2013
In the last two years, Elliott filed motions to make sure there would be no local tax increases, he noted.
“I do my homework, am prepared for meetings, and I’m not a rubber stamp,” said Elliott. “That’s how I’m going to proceed with my ninth term, if reelected, to continue to make our city government more open and more transparent, reminding everyone our city manager works for us, not the other way around.

The Sun who has heaped praise on Manager Murphy’s hiring of Fiscal “consultant” Bob Healy seems to ignore the facts Healy presented in this years budget presentation:

The City Council’s policy to hold taxes to minimal, if any, increases in Fiscal Years 2012-2014, while maintaining service levels despite increasing operating expenses, created a Fiscal Year 2015 budget gap that needed to be bridged

It has been the City Council with support from the Sun, (although even the Sun realized Elliott was good for them but NOT for the citizens of Lowell and did NOT endorse him for re-election in 2013) along with reporter / Sunflower publicist Lyle Moran and the slanted ant-Lynch coverage that encouraged no new tax increases and again shows the Suns ability to alter the true facts to fit their argument.

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