Nostalgia Won’t Pay My Tax Bill!

FraminghamWhy I am Voting Yes

Would you rather live in the oldest, largest town in Massachusetts or in a municipality known for its transparency, accountability and most importantly, equal representation of its citizens?

Currently I serve as chairwoman of the Planning Board and have served on the ZBA, Town Meeting, Standing Committee of Public Works and the Government Study Committee over the past 25 years. As such, I have a deep understanding of the workings of our current form of government and its failings. A recent case in point is Town Meeting’s rejection of the Corporate Mixed Used Zoning proposal to assist Staples, our fourth largest commercial taxpayer, with relief that would allow the company to rezone their property located in the 9/90 area. Staples continues to report a sharp decline in sales and earnings growth that resulted in the closing of 48 stores in 2016 and the expected closing of 70 more stores this year. Understanding the importance of Staples to the Town’s tax base, the Planning Board with its Administrator invested over three years, an excess of fifty meetings, and thousands of dollars on consulting fees for market and traffic studies to develop a zoning bylaw to respond to Staples’ needs. At Town Meeting the Planning Board was allowed less 10 minutes to present their case and a principal from Staples was given less than five minutes while the traffic engineer was not allowed to give his report at all. Moreover, Town Meeting members admitted to never reading detailed traffic and market feasibility studies prepared by paid consultants. It was made clear to the Planning Board and the principals of Staples that they simply did not care what the future held for this business partner or the town with respect to future redevelopment in this prime commercial location and chose to deny the proposal on its face. More importantly, they decided that the residents of Framingham should not be given the opportunity to enhance the dwindling tax base while sending a message to potential developers that they were not welcome.

For those of you thinking that a city would result in increased taxes and expense to the taxpayer with a paid professional staff I would say you are intentionally being misled. It only took the vote of three members of the Board of Selectmen to appoint the town manager, who does not live in Framingham, with a contract containing a salary of $178,602. Most residents have no idea of the number of positions and salary increases that have taken place under the current town manager.

I contend that a city government will provide taxpayer relief by restructuring municipal government and eliminating the unnecessary current municipal expenditures by the Town Manager.

Those opposing the Charter are making these claims for fear of losing their personal control over an agenda that is crippling the town’s ability to thrive which ultimately is punishing the taxpayer with continual tax increases. In addition, some Town Meeting members hold contracts with the town that are not disclosed and at the same time they vote on proposals to ensure that they will continue to be paid while “volunteering.”

In sum, city government WILL NOT cost the taxpayer more since the immediate result will be to examine the current town expenditures and revenues to eliminate unnecessary positions and spending.

City government WILL provide the transparency, accountability and equal representation that currently does not exist

City government WILL provide a mayor directly accountable to voters. Provisions for relief will be in place if the mayor does not perform as expected. Currently the town manager is only accountable to three voting members of the Board of Selectmen. This threshold is unacceptable

Please vote YES on April 4, 2017 for the Charter – Framingham’s government needs reform!

Christine Long

Chair of the Planning Board