Frieri Calls for Property Tax Reform, Relief for Homeowners
RICHMOND, Mass. — Rosanne Frieri, a candidate for representative in the 2nd Berkshire District, is calling for immediate property tax reform and relief of homeowners.
"The property tax system is simply unjust to homeowners and does not have adequate checks and balances to protect homeowners from disproportionate assessments," said the Richmond Republican. "Property tax laws by design place every property owner at a distinct disadvantage."
Frieri has met with property owners and reviewed multiple complaints that the Department of Revenue and other state agencies have largely ignored.
"It is outrageous that homeowners continue to have their property taxes raised in a market that has not just slid, but avalanched downhill since 2006. On top of that is a property tax system with outmoded laws that favor assessors and place every homeowner at substantial risk for an unfair assessment."
Frieri also cites another troubling trend of escalating property tax rates in small towns that offer few services. "What are these good citizens getting in return for the high property taxes they pay?" she asks.
Frieri lists a multitude of problems with the current property tax system, from assessors with no meaningful oversight to an Appellate Tax Board that has no enforcement power. Additionally, current laws force homeowners to pay their property tax bills in full on incorrect assessments or their right to appeal is disallowed, foreclosure sales are not factored into market value, and the appeals process is too complicated and costly.
According to Frieri, property tax issues are impacting everyone negatively, from business owners to homeowners to renters who have property tax increases passed on to them by their landlords.
"Many people are unemployed, or on fixed incomes such as the elderly and our war veterans. Under the current property tax system, they are faced with losing their homes to seizure unless these skyrocketing property taxes are paid, and how are they supposed to pay them?" she asked.
Frieri said she is committed to advocating property owners' rights and sponsoring bills to reform the property tax system, which has not undergone a major reform in over 30 years with many of the laws dating back to Colonial times.
|Tags: Frieri, taxes|
Marijuana Legalization: Green-Rainbow Party Candidate Is For It
LENOX, Mass. — Lee Scott Laugenour, candidate for state representative in the 4th Berkshire District, endorsed the legalization of marijuana.
Laugenour commented Tuesday within a discussion thread on the subject of marijuana legalization. Last week, he responded to a candidate questionnaire from the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, answering YES to the following two questions:
Are you in favor of legislation that would regulate commerce in cannabis, i.e., impose reasonable regulations on the cultivation and sale of this agricultural commodity by and between adults, such regulations to include a reasonable excise tax?
Are you in favor of legislation that would allow patients with their doctor's written recommendation, or such patient's registered caregiver, to possess and grow marijuana for the patient's medical use?
Laugenour's posting follows and can also be read with commentary here:
It's time for marijuana to be legalized, removed from the black market so that production and trade can be regulated and taxed similarly to the manner in which alcohol is made available to consumers. Let's allow our communities' entrepreneurs to apply for licenses so that they may expand their business and profit from the sale of marijuana and related paraphernalia, and let's collect fair and reasonable excise taxes on it.
I invite readers who arrived this page directly from my Web site to follow the postings and conversation that precede my comment on this thread, particularly the discussion about whether a position like mine, being in favor of marijuana legalization, is inconsistent with opposition to casino development. I have stated previously that I am opposed to the casino development proposals in Massachusetts and remain so. This opposition is grounded in the belief that casinos result in net job loss and that as tax revenue sources they are regressive. I have no problem with anyone who wants to gamble, but large big-business casino development is community busting and is a lousy basis for a jobs and tax policy.
I hope the discussion continues; I'm happy to be on record in support of marijuana legalization. When elected to represent the 4th Berkshire District I will advocate for it. Those interested in learning more about the issue can visit the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition at www.masscann.org.
|Tags: Laugenour, marijuana|
Bowler Lays Out Campaign Platform
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Candidate for sheriff Thomas N. Bowler has announced a campaign platform focused on increasing public safety, advancing accountability during serious economic times, and bringing a new kind of leadership to the office of sheriff that is based on education, experience and training.
"In today's world, the sheriff must reach out to law-enforcement professionals in Berkshire County and collaborate with them to increase public confidence and develop a true community-based approach to criminal justice," Bowler said. "As a Pittsfield Police detective, I experienced the devastating and costly impact that crime has on families and community. As sheriff, I'll work with passion and dedication to make Berkshire County a safer place to live. By working together, we can produce far more positive outcomes."
Bowler, who has received endorsements from the district attorney, the Berkshire County Police Chiefs, court officers and corrections officers, among others, said that the sheriff's office is in a unique position to help the law enforcement community.
"Step One includes developing a comprehensive means of gathering intelligence from the inmate population and sharing it with local and state police to help their efforts in fighting crime," he said. "Berkshire County has changed dramatically over the last several years, requiring a careful and professional approach to law enforcement that joins every level of criminal justice into a highly-efficient and effective team. I believe the sheriff's office can play a valuable role in a collaborative new approach to reducing crime, and I pledge to help in every way possible."
A police detective and 24-year member of the Pittsfield Police Department, Bowler also served as a deputy superintendent in charge of security at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction. He has an undergraduate and master's degree in criminal justice.
"I've been preparing for this role for most of my adult life," the candidate continued. "I believe I have the background and experience that the job of sheriff requires. The real issue in this campaign is one of leadership - who is best prepared to lead the men and women currently employed at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction, maintain the safety and security of this facility, collaborate with the county's law enforcement agencies and forge effective alliances with the county's social service agencies who are major players in the lives of those incarcerated at the jail. This has been my world for the last 24 years, and I'm ready to take it to the next level as sheriff."
As a former high-level jail administrator, Bowler said he already understands the process and the enormous responsibility involved in turning around the lives of people who have broken the law. The candidate noted that
there are a multitude of rehabilitation programs already in place at the jail and will not propose any additional initiatives until he has had the chance to assess the value of existing programs. "The state's fiscal crisis means there are far fewer resources to address all serious issues, including adequately funding our schools, programs for the disabled, people out of work and senior citizens. In this economic environment, we need to use what we have to its highest potential and that will take the right leadership."
Bowler said his campaign platform does not include additional spending. "In the last two years, the state has cut the jail's budget by 13 percent. Adequately staffing this facility is now an issue. Building a new lockup and other initiatives proposed by my opponent are currently beyond the means of taxpayers, who ultimately pay the bills," Bowler said. "We need to insist on the most efficient and cost-effective application of resources, which can take far more initiative and creativity than spending money."
Bowler said he will aggressively pursue grants and private funding for worthy initiatives. In addition, he will draw on the expertise of the Berkshire delegation to the State House to ensure that the jail receives adequate state funding.
"No one has a monopoly on politics," Bowler said. "It is the sheriff's role to work with staff to put together the best budget possible and then work with our state legislators to secure funding. This job requires a collaborative effort at every level."
The candidate has spent the last few months on the campaign trail, meeting groups and individuals and talking about his platform, which can be viewed in total at www.tombowlerforsheriff.com. He will participate in three televised debates in August and a countywide radio debate in early September.
|Tags: Bowler, platform|
MacDonald Against Wind-Siting Bill
ADAMS, Mass. — Edward MacDonald, candidate for state representative, came out against the wind siting bill that passed the House of Representatives.
MacDonald said the bill takes away local control, and provides more power in the hands of developers. The Senate passed a similar bill earlier in the year.
The language of the bill allows developers to bypass the local boards if the permitting process takes longer than 120 days. MacDonald supports clean energy, but not at the cost of relinquishing the rights of cities, towns and their residents.
"What is upsetting to me is that this bill bypasses local boards, and therefore local control. The towns and cities and their residents are being shortchanged by the passage of this bill. Large companies who can take their battle to court will eventually win out. While it might reduce red tape and time in implementing these projects, it still puts too much power in the hands of the state. This is a classic example of the state trying to micromanage the cities and towns."
MacDonald said he believes that the state should not take away authority from local boards by passing such a law.
"I believe in local controls, not state-mandated regulations that hurt small cities and towns. I will be your voice at the State House to make sure your voice is heard."
|Tags: MacDonald, wind|
Cariddi Urges Caution on School Regionalization
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — First Berkshire District candidate Gail Cariddi is advocating a go-slow approach to state plans to consolidate small public school districts. The Patrick administration and some in the Legislature are pushing for rural school systems to merge as a way to become more cost-efficient.
"I think we need to be very careful that we don't sacrifice local control and small-town identity for savings which may or may not be there down the road," Cariddi said. Cariddi, who serves as the North Adams City Council's liaison to the School Committee, noted that promises by the state to fully reimburse regional school districts for their transportation costs have never been fully funded even in good economic times.
"There is a pervasive mindset of 'metro-think' among state bureaucrats in Boston who always seem to think that bigger is better," Cariddi said. "The recent experience in the Mohawk Trail Regional District is that voters did not want expansion to include elementary students from Rowe and Hawlemont."
Cariddi, who has pledged to join the Legislature's Regional School Caucus if elected, said there are other ways to cut costs before embarking on a new wave of regionalization. "Many schools are lowering their fixed costs for energy by converting their heating systems over from oil and gas to biomass and some are using wind energy to generate electricity. These initiatives help create clean energy jobs while also shrinking a school's carbon footprint."
|Tags: Cariddi, education|