Vargas: Economic Development Preferable to Property Tax Increases

Haverhill City Councilor-Elect Andy Vargas appeared on WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday.

Part 2 of 2

Although he won’t be seated in time to vote next week on the balance between homeowner and business taxes, Haverhill City Councilor-Elect Andy Vargas said he wouldn’t be inclined to make any changes.

The incoming city councilor—the third top vote-getter last week—was asked about property taxes and fees while appearing on WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday night.

“I don’t think I would—at this time at least, you know I have to look at the numbers—change anything at this point.”

Placing tax and fee questions in context, Open Mike Show host Tim Coco noted Haverhill residents are relatively poor when compared with the rest of the state, yet have paid steady increases in taxes, water and wastewater rates. Haverhill ranks in the bottom third of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns in per capita income, with an average income per person of $28,591 in 2013. Its average median household income in 2013 was $60,618. Vargas acknowledged Haverhill consumer incomes are below the state average.

“What we’re hearing from residents now is, ‘We can’t afford any more increases,’” he said.

In an effort to temper steep surges in household property taxes, city councilors in the past have voted to shift more of the tax burden to commercial and industrial properties. Businesses, though, have argued such short-term thinking has harmed the city. Jeffrey G. Linehan, president of Diversified Business Systems, said last year, for example, such tax policies cause businesses to leave, which drives up residential taxes. Vargas said he understands the dilemma.

“I certainly don’t want to raise taxes for businesses. We have to look at different ways to produce economic development in the city.”

Asked what options he thinks might be available, Vargas said, “Raising taxes, which we can’t do. We’ve heard from folks that right now they just can’t afford to pay more. Or the other one is, frankly, economic development as you know, as I’ve been talking about on the campaign trail as well—bringing businesses, more businesses to Haverhill.”

In this regard, Vargas said he agrees with the approach advocated by Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson. That is, try to recruit startup companies to come to Haverhill where real estate and rents are far below those of Boston and Cambridge.

Vargas said he won’t be pushing any of his ideas right away.

“I don’t want to go in there acting like, ‘Hey, I’m going to run this show.’ You know I have a lot to learn from the current councilors and, even those who came before me, I’ve been meeting with as well.”

3 thoughts on “Vargas: Economic Development Preferable to Property Tax Increases

  1. Microeconomics are affected by macroeconomics. If we put the individuals of Haverhill and the city as a whole in the context of the Federal government monetary policy and trade treaty agreements it is very clear why both individuals and the city businesses are struggling. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 put a private bank in charge of the county’s monetary policy. This bank thrives on debt. The Fed will encourage both Welfare and Warfare spending to increase debt with interest. Bretton Woods in 1944 created the GATT, IMF, World Bank, UN, and the US dollar (read Federal Reserve Note) as the international reserve currency based on gold at $3/oz. Nixon in ’70 removed the dollar (Federal Reserve Note) from the gold standard in ’70 and created the petrodollar in ’74. The dollar was keyed to the sale of Saudi oil. With oil reserves dwindling in Saudi Arabia and the break up of OPEC the dollar is at risk. We see a mad race to replace Saudi oil with that of the surrounding nations, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Iran. GATT expanded to NAFTA, the WTO, NAU, and now the TPP. Multinational corporations made deals with members of the WTO/IMF to move jobs and manufacturing to the lowest income countries,,capture the energy resources around the world, and ship product back to higher income nations. Trade tariffs and duties were eradicated as economies were globalized without reference to national boundaries. The American worker and manufacturing lost all protections. Industry with its jobs went to the low income countries. Unions were/are blamed…. Interestingly… Big oil, Big steel, Big paper suppressed hemp in the 30’s because it is a major competitor. With legalization afoot, those industries can be explored locally. any discussion of microeconomics must consider the decisions made at the Federal government level. This is the problem with strong centralized government. The anti-federalists predicted this in 1787-1789… up to the point the ‘new Constitution was ratified. The Federal Reserve Act, Bretton Woods, and all her offspring have set these macroeconomic wheels in motion. See my last 2 interviews in October with Lenny Cavallaro Perspectives, HC Media.

  2. Andy, you want to make an instant impact on the intrusive financial burden imposed on hundreds of Haverhill families? Target an issue which you have experience in…youth sports leagues in the city.

    Each year through the payment of their taxes residents fund the city DPW and parks department. These departments are responsible for the maintenance and management of city ball fields for a variety of youth sports….soccer, baseball, lacrosse, etc. The mayor then has the nerve to charge these leagues a user fee to use the fields. He’s essentially charging residents a fee for something they have already paid for!!!! Those fees are then passed on to each family when they sign their child up to participate in each sport. The fees amount to tens of thousands of dollars a year. It’s Double Dipping Andy, and it’s just not right. These fields belong to the residents of Haverhill…they don’t belong to this tax and spend mayor. He’s using taxpayer owned assets to charge families twice, and then secretly using the additional revenues in ways no one has any information about.

    Andy, see what you can do to stop this unethical policy. It’s a perfect issue for you to add instant value to hundreds of families within the city.

  3. “Tim Coco noted Haverhill residents are relatively poor” – Sounds familiar, almost verbatim, right?

    For visual reference, and from the “official” data reports by our own government, one can see what’s happening in this state over the past 14 years, now going on 15 years: Real median incomes (adjusted for inflation) have plummeted 10%, while at the same time, Brian Dempsey and his pals on Bacon Hill have increased taxation by over 52% over that same time period. So not only is a city as poor as Haverhill fighting against our own local government, we have our state government economically destroying us through higher taxation (and fees). There is nothing they have not gone after. This also has a impact on The People’s discretionary incomes, which in turn, less to spend on local businesses. Or in Haverhill’s case, since we’re a border city, no one in their right mind would go shopping here when tax-free NH is right in our backyard.

    It’s clearly apparent local and state pols don’t care. They continue to economically obliterate those of us left paying the bills, in a city that is in ever higher demand of social welfare resources. Of course this has a tragic ending, not because I think so, but because math says so. Massachusetts is already in the bottom five(5) of fiscally prudent states, number one in income disparity, and number one in health care costs, where it’s constituency is becoming poorer thanks to other policy and external forces (Fed, CONgress). Lets also not forget that Haverhill, long ago, and continues to pull demand forward through deficit spending. The city simply will never have the production capacity, or taxable power to ever make that up. Oh, and don’t look at Haverhill’s “matured” (read Ponzi) Retirement system that is less than 50% funded, that is a hope, and story, for another day.

    So good luck Andy, if you’re going to fight the status quo in not only this city, but this state, with its rich history of cronyism, corruption, and extreme nepotism, you’re going to need it.