Podcast: LePage Says Top Issue in Mayoral Race are Services Residents Need, but Don’t Receive

Haverhill City Council Vice President Colin F. LePage delivers his 2020 inaugural address. At left is City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien. (WHAV News file photograph.)

See also interviews with Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Patrolman Guy E. Cooper.

Part 3 of 3

In a series of WHAV mayoral interviews in advance of Tuesday’s Haverhill preliminary election, candidate Colin F. LePage says the biggest issue in this year’s election isn’t about what Haverhill citizens have, but rather what they’ve been missing.

The current City Council vice president said he has spent his dozen years on the City Council finding money that can be used to give residents more.

“What I’m looking to do is, from what I’ve done on the City Council and I’ve kind of been known to look at the budget quite thoroughly and found there’s been some things that have been missing as far as what taxpayers pay for and as far as the services they could receive,” he said.

LePage said, for example, he found $600,000 that was overlooked in an obscure city account. Beyond that, he said he discovered the city failed to collect mortgage payments of $225,000 over two years on city property that was sold for a downtown development.

“Over the last few years, I’ve found over $2 million that just hasn’t been properly allocated to be used to provide services for the taxpayers,” he explained.

LePage also said in 2015 he identified $100,000 that could be used to hire needed health instructors in the midst of opioid drug epidemic. He noted only one health teacher, serving four middle schools, had been working the prior 10 years. He said, thanks to his lobbying, the schools now have four again. On a related matter, he said he has been visiting middle and high schools to talk about “the perils of drugs and addiction” in light of his son’s death.

One sum of money, LePage hasn’t been able so far to claw back is a building permit fee charged to the new Caleb Dustin Hunking School project.

“The administration added $300,000 on the total bill for the Hunking School that the taxpayers will have to pay on that. There was no additional benefit to the citizens other than they now have to pay an extra $300,000 over 20 years to pay for that building permit fee,” he said.

He explained the city had not charged itself a permit fee for the Haverhill High School renovation, construction of a police garage and repairs to the library at the Dr. Albert B.  Consentino School after it was flooded.

The councilor said he also successfully led the fight to replace both of the city’s oldest fire trucks.

“Last year, we also discussed the replacement of two, 33-year-old fire trucks. We were told the administration was only going to replace one. Myself and the majority of the Council didn’t feel that was accurate and that we could replace two,” he said.

LePage said he and his family moved here 24 years ago because of the city’s potential and such highlights as four new schools under construction at the time and the presence of a ski hill, castle, golf courses and open space.

Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.

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