June 30, 2009
The cap and trade bill that passed through congress allows for somebody from the government to come into your house and inspect your windows, appliances, A/C, furnace, and anything else that you can think of to make sure your house is on par with the new national building codes. Not only will they inspect your house, but they will then be able to mandate that you, the seller, provide the necessary remedies regardless of cost, within a certain amount of time BEFORE YOU MAY SELL YOUR OWN HOUSE.
Bottom line if you own an older home, you are going to have to spend some money, not pennies either, to meet the standards to be allowed to sell your home?
Lets hope some of the dignataries that are there will notice the overgrown parcel, 49 Canterbury Street, that was awarded to Phramasphere last January for $1. To date the parcel still has not been taken title, no property taxes have been paid and the winning bidder has until September of 2010 to take title as long as they are working "diligently".
June 29, 2009
- There goes his annual incomes taxes to the Commonwealth of Mass
- There goes his estate taxes to the Commonwealth of Mass
These projections for the added taxes will not only not be met, but the revenues will keep dropping each month as more and more people buy their products out of state and change their residency.
June 28, 2009
I flip through the paper and read my favorites--Diane, Nick and sometime Shaun. Of course, however, my favorite on Sundays is my friend, Robert Z Nemeth. I met Mr Nemeth about three years ago, or was it longer, after he discovered the FLYORH website. As the chairman of the airport commission, I thought that he had contacted me and wanted to meet me at my office to work together to help the airport become what we all know it should be.
Instead Mr Nemeth stopped by my office to pontificate about that"if anything is going to get done at ORH, it goes through him", "he knows where all the bodies are buried" and then directed me to meet with the Chamber of Commerce. Thinking of somehow working together was the furthiest thing from his mind, I was just a "silly blogger".
I even wrote a letter to the airport commission per his recommendation, explaining that they should privatize the airport like Newburgh, NY did with their airport when they leased it to National Express for 99 years and actually called the Chamber to meet with them. My letter was noted in the board meeting and dismissed, never to be mentioned again because the consultants did not see a market. Then I met with the Chamber. That was a complete waste of time and when I walked out I vowed to never ever join the Worcester Chamber of Commerce.
I can not help, but think what if anyone actually listened three years ago. What if we had actually put together an RFP and marketed the entire airport for sale of lease and had articles in all the major media outlets? We will never know.... Truth be told maybe MassPort was the only option, but wasn't there some sort of fiduciary responsibility to the tax-payers of Worcester to make sure we received the highest price for this city owned asset?? Instead we want the City Manager to talk to the owner of the Midtown Mall.....
Today I grabbed the newspaper and figured there was no way possible Mr Nemeth could not write about the sale of ORH to Massport in light of the recently signed transportion bill. Flipping to page A10, I read the title "Day care for the frail". Nothing, not one word about the airport. Now more then ever we should be discussing the valuation of the airport, the terms of the sale, etc and not one word??? Summit Eldercare, are you kiddin me....
This blog started off about the airport and has morphed into other issues. After writing 2000 posts, I got to say this has been alot of fun but I can not help feel somewhat disappointed that the ideas on this blog expressed by me and others were not listened to. What did the City of Worcester have to lose to RFP the entire airport, instead they wasted their time putting an RFP out on two seperate parcels that only one person bid and never bought?
At the same I time, the blogs were new and people did in fact consider them as being "silly". Take a look at Facebook, I thought it was "silly" but now have joined and recently signed up for the Buchalter for City Council group. It has 126 members, not silly at all!! Here is hoping that are city leaders see these blogs as a resource. I am not saying there are not some "silly" ideas in these blogs, but there are some great ideas too.
As I finish my 2000 post, lets hope our city leaders worry less about ideas going through them, where the bodies are buried or going through the "proper" channels, but tap the blogs for useful ideas and maybe even, god forbid, participate in the discussions.
June 27, 2009
June 26, 2009
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts efforts to provide universal health insurance has included a program referred to as CommonwealthCare. This plan enables individuals under a certain income limit (300% of the Federal overty line) to buy individual health insurance at a subsidized premium funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
CommonwealthCare's enrollment has been higher then expected leading to larger then expected deficits. In the last three months alone, enrollment has increased from 165,000 member to 177,000 members, and is projected to grow to 212,000 next year. In three months, enrollment has gone up 10%!!!
Why has this happened? The word is getting out as to how easy it is to qualify when the benchmark is up to 300% of the Federal poverty line. Here are the income qualification per family size:
For example, a family of 4 making less then 66,156 can qualify for subsidized health insurance. Would you have thought, before reading this that making 66,000 with a family of 4 being eligible for subsidized health insurance? What about the businesses that deal in cash and do not declare all their income? They will qualify. It gets worse, there is no asset test!!! In other words you could have a two million dollar home debt free and $500,000 in the bank, but if your income falls under the guideline, you qualify.
The high enrollment in CommonwealthCare is one of the reasons that the projected cost in 2009 has risen from 1.56 billion to 1.9 billion, an increase of over 300 million dollars! The Commonwealth of Massachusetts needs to:
- Lower the income levels to make it more difficult to qualify
- Implement and asset test like Medicaid does to qualify for nursinig home payments
If this does not happen, the 210,000 member projection for next year will be surpassed and the cost will exceed well over 2 billion per year.
SECTION 148.(a) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, Worcester regional airport, as currently owned by the city of Worcester and operated by the Massachusetts Port Authority, is hereby transferred from the city of Worcester to the Massachusetts Port Authority on the July first following one year after the effective date of this act, subject to the following terms and conditions: (i) the Worcester regional airport shall be transferred to the Massachusetts Port Authority for fair compensation which may be paid in installments and which may consider the actual amount of any expenditures, subsidies and operational costs assumed or provided to date to or for the Worcester regional airport by said Massachusetts Port Authority, in addition to any other federal and state funding and grant assistance, and (ii) the right, title and interest of the city in the Worcester regional airport shall be conveyed within 1 year upon the transfer date set by this act (b) Upon the transfer of the airport by the city of Worcester to the Massachusetts Port Authority pursuant to this section, the Massachusetts Port Authority shall be responsible for the ownership, operation and maintenance of the Worcester regional airport and, except as otherwise agreed to by the parties, the city shall cease to be responsible for such ownership, operation and maintenance.
All warranties and all contract and indemnification rights and obligations arising out of the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the airport shall remain in full force and effect following such transfer. The provisions of this section shall not limit or in any way impair the rights, remedies or defenses of the city of Worcester or the Massachusetts Port Authority in or to any such action.
June 25, 2009
Since the departure of former Mayor Tim Murray 2 1/2 years ago, the City of Worcester has lacked an effective political leader. The present Mayor is right in that her job involves chairing both the City Council and School Committee meetings and making public appearances with proclamations and keys to the city in hand. However, for the good of our residents, home and business owners/taxpayers, school and college students, and community agencies, among many others, I know that a change in the occupant of the Mayor's Office will be needed after three years of non-inspirational and disengaged leadership by our current Mayor.
By this e-mail, I am letting you know that on Wednesday, July 1, at 4:15 PM, on the 2nd floor of City Hall, I will be holding a press conference to discuss how important the position of Mayor needs to be for Worcester to become a city with better administered schools, safer neighborhoods, thriving businesses, and better jobs for residents. Worcesterites should be encouraged to speak up, their voices need to be heard, so they enthusiastically will roll up their sleeves and work with their elected and appointed officials, their neighbors and others, to make Worcester not just the second largest city in New England, but the best city in New England.
Please join me at my Press Conference on Wednesday, July 1, at 4:15 PM to hear my concerns, vision and plans for Worcester's future. Thank you very much!
Worcester City Council-At-Large
June 24, 2009
Request City Manager consider engaging in negotiations with the owner of the Mid-Town Mall for the possible sale of the real estate and a relocation plan for existing retail tenants and a development plan for re-use plan for this critically important downtown space.
I think the City Manager has enough on his plate with City Square and now we want him to start talking to the owners of the Mid-Town Mall?
June 22, 2009
- I have been able to vent some of my frustrations, which I hope lead to change.
- There are some great blogs out there that I have found and love to read.
- I have met some great people through this blog..
Today I ran into a person, who told me he thought it may be too late (more or less) for the private sector to survive in the downtown/Main South areas. I got to tell you, I did alot of thinking about that and I can not disagree. Look at me, where am I investing my monies--not in these areas and I have in the past!! How can I compete with someone who is able pour 23 million into the old Burwick Furniture building?? I can't and no other private sector person could unless they were able to get the same Federal/State grants for low to mod income housing.
Although I may agree with my friend, I will not stop posting my thoughts on the blog about what I perceive as an over-reliance on low to mod income housing developments in Worcester. Lets hope Gabe is right and that these developments help turn us into the next Pittsburgh, but I can not help but think that developments that cater to high income people may be the better path?
Halfway through the month, the state's tax collections are $251 million less than they were for the same period a year ago, the state Department of Revenue said.
As of June 15, the state had collected $859 million in taxes and was projecting full-month revenue of $2 billion, a decrease of $217 million compared to June 2008. The department said the decline is primarily the result of lower income and corporate/business tax payments.
Month-to-date, income tax collections totaled $70 million, $66 million less than was collected during the same period last year. Corporate and business tax collections totaled $350 million a $93 million reduction from June 2008.
June 20, 2009
My point in Worcester is "enough already". Look no furthere then my map. We are already way above the minimum 10% required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, lets slow this train down and attract some housing for high income earners?
Ironically the City of Worcester paid $25 about 7 years ago to a company in New Hampshire called RKG. I ask anyone reading this blog to read their two page recommendation. RKG nailed it and we have proceeded to do the exact opposite of what they recommended 7 years ago.
June 19, 2009
June 18, 2009
For 5 years, we urged the City of Worcester on this blog to:
- Put the entire airport out to bid (RFP)
- Privatize the airport.
The RFP was never put out, although two insignificant parcels were that in the end received one bid, but was never sold. More importantly a private company like National Express, which leased Stewart Airport in Newburg, NY for 100 years, but sold it for a rather large profiit back to the Port Authority of NY after 10 years for a huge profit, showed there was a market for aiirports.In the RFP was never put out, but make no mistake about it ORH has been privatized as MassPort has taken title to our municipally owned airport. How much did they pay for it? Jahn, I am not making this up. The price will be in equal installments and will be "fair". Have you ever heard of anyone selling anything for an unknow ""fair" price.
Even when the "fair" price is determined any:
- operational costs
Provided to the city by the state will reduce the fair price.
Let me give you an example. Assume we determine the "fair" price to be 25 million and the expenditures/subsidies/operational costs provided by the state to be $20 million, the City of Worcester gets $5 million.
This begs the question of why didn't we seek a new owner, who would not have been able to reduce the purchase price by the expenditures/subsidies/operational costs provided to the City of Worcester? In other words, a bid by National Express of $20 million would be better, in this example, since the City of Worcester would have gotten the full $20 million.
Looking forward, what's done is done. Although I feel the City of Worcester has not gotten the best price for ORH, this is great for the actual operation. Now that MassPort has a true ownership interest in ORH, you will see ORH become a real airport.
Here are a few predictions in the short term (one year):
- Cape Air code sharing with JetBlue
- Shuttle flights to a major hub 3 or 4 times per day
In closing we could have found a better buyer, but lets just be happy we have someone who knows how to run an airport running ORH.
Good news, however, is I think we set a new record. The cost to renovate 44 apartments comes in at 23 million or a cool $522,727 per unit. That must be wrong, let me double check. Nope that it right. Right now I am speechless and need to sign off. You spend $522,727 per unit and you have a party?
In the private sector the only party you would be having is in the bankruptcy court.
June 16, 2009
On paper this is a great project and would be a great addition to the neighborhood, but how long do we wait??? The Land Disposition Agreement says that as long as they are "diligently" working, they have until September of 2010.
Personally I think we should have rebid this parcel again and Pharmasphere could have bid again instead of holding this property for what can conceivably be three years without one penny of property taxes being paid.
As I have said many times there is big money in low to mod income housing.
June 14, 2009
What happens when the City is facing tough economic times and need the cash now? They sell the liens. Now lets suppose thers is a nice ranch in the West Side of Worcester, but for whatever reason has fallen behind and owe some $20,000 in taxes, water and sewer fees? An investor will pay $20,000 for the lien and take the place of the City of Worcester and go to Land Court to get the property.
The City of Worcester considers it a win since they are able to get the 20,000 now. The investor considers it a win since even if they debt is paid back it accumulates at 16-18% (not sure exact rat) and if it is not paid back, they get a great property for pennies on the dollar. Although it may be cherry picking, it is not something the City of Worcester is doing wrong. It really is the free market at work.
The biggest problem as I see it, however, is that these investors only accept full payment. If you owed the City of Worcester money, you can usually make partial payments to pay down the debt. These investors only accept full payment. The person, for whatever reason, got in the hole $20,000 now has to come up with $20,000 all at once to keep their house.
Now read Nick K today. The state revenues are going to continue to be less then expected and the new taxes passed to increase reevenues will not only not meet their targets, but may push people to buy more products out of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. All of this will lead to more cuts in Worcester. As Nick says "all in all, it is a pretty gloomy situation".
If we are depending on the increased taxes on meals and hotels?? There is no way that is going to raise the kind of money we are going to need. The only way we are going to truly increase the revenue in the City of Worcester is to make it a business friendly place and start increasing the tax base not by looking for more sources to tax.
June 12, 2009
June 09, 2009
Who did I find?? How many people can you really talk to and have a serious conversation in one hour? Tonight I met three (almost four) people, that I had never met in my life until tonight. Very impressed by all of them--all actual business-owners.
What was my favorite part? SJD'A!! I almost felt bad that I banged him on the blog when I saw his comment yesterday, but did he give me the evil eye tonight? He gets it. Business is business. Can you imagine banging the Chamber and having someone from the Chamber of Commerce leaving a comment defending themselves like SJD'A did, not anonymously, then welcome me the next day when I show up at their event?
I have never been a member of the Chamber of Commerce nor have I even considered it. What the hell is the cost now anyhow --$325??? Think anyone will respond from the Chamber to this post like SJD'A did yesterday? Join Worcester Local where the Executive Director and meet other business owners.
June 07, 2009
The first two businesses listed are from Arlington?? One of which is Samenfeld Consulting the designed of the Worcester Local First website.
June 05, 2009
After 55 years, they are closing located on 35 Pleasant Street. Please stop by and help Andre (pictured on the left) clear out his inventory this month. Great guy and he will be missed downtown. Had a chance to do a quick blog interview:
- Sorry to hear that you are closing. Since I joined the workforce in 1986, there has been a switch to casual dress away from the suit and tie, which has obviously hurt your business. that said have you seen a shifting of the workforce out of downtown Worcester? Yes, there is nobody left downtown.
- Were you hoping to see CitySquare open and make a difference in your business? Yes, since 2004 when it was announced.
- What do you think of the Chamber of Commerce, right across the street? The chamber is useless.
- What advice would you give to downtown planners? We need more stores and housing.
- Tell us about your closing sale? Everything must go, up to 75% off until August 1st.
- What are your plans after Lujons? Looking for a job..
June 04, 2009
- Evacuation Day
- Bunker Hill Day
If these two holidays wer revoked, it would save the Commonwealth 5 million dollars. Here is how the House voted
June 03, 2009
June 02, 2009
Small part--I am shocked (kiddin)
At a September hearing before the committee, state Inspector General Gregory Sullivan said some developers had not accurately stated their affordable-housing profits, at a loss of $100 million for cities and towns. Sullivan testified that no mechanism existed to track which projects had been certified for financial accuracy