For the past 8 years our mayor has overseen a huge increase in apartment construction. On October 3, 2018 he signed a pledge with MAPC to build thousands more. MAPC, a publicly funded housing group, concluded this year that Malden needs at least 3,852 new apartments over the next 10 years, and that “more parking is supplied...than demanded” and “parking demand, then, should not be con- sidered a constraint on development.” While he may agree, I do not.
Our mayor got it wrong. Apartment developments are not a good source of revenue. In fact, they are taxed at the lower residential rate, and they use a lot of city services, e.g. more cars on our roads, kids in our schools, and public safety calls. Moreover, our mayor failed to recognize that high rents cause our community to receive a lower share of state aid for schools. When our mayor took office, 87% of Malden’s school budget was paid for by the state, and local taxpayers were responsible for $6.4 Million; whereas today those numbers are 69% and $23 Million. In other words, Malden residents pay $16.6 Million more today than they did when our mayor took office.
This is the foreseeable result of failing to negotiate fair terms with developers. In one instance our mayor directly helped former State Senator Jack Brennan buy a building at $900,000 under assessed value and turn it into apartments. He then gave him a $2 Million gift off his future taxes, for nothing in return. If a community is going to get the density and traffic, we should at least get the full taxes, and major funding for sewers and roads, which are costing our residents a lot of money that they don’t have.
This is just one of many missed opportunities to negotiate affordable housing, or repairs to our 200 nonworking fire hydrants, or mandated sewer repairs that Environmental Protection specifically tells cities to require of developers. When apartment developers do not pay their fair share, major costs are passed down to our working residents.
This also explains our mayor’s reliance on blue trash bag fees, water/sewer overbilling, and millions of dollars of increased ticket writing. For example, in 2015 our mayor doubled street sweeping fines. When the City Council learned of the increase, it insisted that he install signs to tell people the parking rules before writing the expensive tickets. He ignored that request for two years while aggressively writing $1 Million in tickets before finally putting up signs this year.
We are a relatively poor population, among the bottom 10% per person income in the state. We need a mayor who looks out for us, not the developers. I will be the mayor who cares about your wallet. I will focus on bringing in new business revenue by promoting our great city as the next thriving business hub of the Metro North. We will then be in a position to better fund our schools and public safety, while reducing our dependence on ticketing residents and raising their water bills. It is time to let the people lead, and build a future together that we can all be proud of.
Thank you for taking the time to learn the issues and vote this Tuesday, November 5. I truly appreciate your valuable vote for Mayor of Malden.