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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Tip of the Hat: Rita Mercier

Left In Lowell

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October 8, 2011

Tip of the Hat: Rita Mercier

by at 9:21 am.

Ya, you read that right, so stop squinting.

On Warren Shaw’s WCAP program, this morning, Rita didn’t even flinch when asked about the current tax rate. She stated clearly that Lowell’s tax rates are in line with the services Lowellian’s receive. Later, in a response to a caller, Warren Shaw advised the caller that Lowell has lower rates than the surrounding suburbs.

It was bold of Rita to hold the line and stand up for the repair work the CM is performing on our City’s fiscal health.

I bet you are starting to get sick of seeing this graph:


But what is plain, as day, is that from 2000-2005 taxes were kept artificially low and the cost of goverment was borne by the city’s Free Cash, or “rainy day fund.” The economy didn’t tank until 2007. Yet, by 2006, Lowell had a negative free cash balance.

We can argue about “the cost of government” and whether we are getting rooked by city unions and fat cat admins. That is an arguement that should be had. I believe that there are efficiencies to be found.

But what is ticking me off, is the several city council candidates running around using Grover Norquist, tea party, “NH Advantage,” “read my lips,” like pledges for NO NEW TAXES!!!!! This is bogus pandering to a distressed electorate.

There is no free lunch, folks.

Rita mentioned the hollow campaign rhetoric , as well. She noted that it is easy to say such things, as “we spend too much,” not having to face the realities of governing and the effects of draconian cost cuts. She was clear that no one likes taxes and no councilor wants to raise them, but only so much can be done. Further, the Council has done well, with this CM, to mitigate the damage done by a weak economy and a hobbled city coffers.

Rita’s statements today can give cover to the other candidates that want to talk about real world solutions to Lowell’s challenges. While a few may opt to continue using, as Patrick Murphy mentioned, “Christmas Wishlist” talking points, my hope is that Lowell voters see through the fog and choose wisely.

22 Responses to “Tip of the Hat: Rita Mercier”

  1. Joe S Says:

    The councilors already approved a budget with an average 2.5% increase. The assessors have yet to define the valuation. But, if the valuation stays constant, we should expect a 2.5% increase in tax rate, unless other factors change that. In any case, the average tax bill should be 2.5% higher in FY 2012 than it was in FY 2012, of course not many are the “average”.

    One of those “other factors” that could come into play is added State aid from excess revenue in FY 2011. The legislature has already used some of that by pumping up the State rainy day fund by about $350M. However, there is likely about $1.5M to come to the City this Fall for suggested use as covering “one time expenses”. How that gets divied up will be important. Restoring the City’s stabilization account will be one possibility, but there may be some other pressing Capital needs. But there remains an option to use some of that money to offset the tax levy and thereby reduce the tax rate from what it may otherwise be. For example, $500K would reduce the increase from 2.5% to just over 2.0%. There could be other savings from the health care negotiations, but those would likely not show up until FY 2013.

    In any case, since the estimated taxes have a built-in increase due to what has already been approved, and more, it is likely that the January tax bills will show a decrease - and that will be welcomed by the taxpayers.

  2. evelyn Says:

    I would expect Councilor Mercier to support tax increases - 100% of her income is from city, state and federal taxpayers (Lowell City Council, Middlesex Sheriff’s Department, and her husband’s pension from the Housing Authority). So yes, she will never oppose a tax increase.

  3. Jack Says:

    How wonderful it must be for you to live in such a cartoonish world. Public servants work to provide essential services to We The People.

    Mercier isn’t my favorite councilor, but she deserves a bit more respect than being talked about like a parasite.

    Elevate your commenting or you are done on any diary I author.

  4. Magnolia Says:

    Evelyn - At least she has a job and is not living off the public dole. We, the people, elected her to the Council, her husband’s pension is certainly legitimate - he worked for it.
    I have a public pension for which I worked 36 years. My husband has a teacher’s pension for which he made a career change in mid-life because it was something he had always wanted to do. Are you going to fault us as well?

  5. Politics at Work Says:

    I agree with Jack and Magnolia on this one. Rita is a hard-working councilor who deserves respect for her efforts.

  6. evelyn Says:


    You don’t have to like what I say, and as someone with administrator privileges, you are as free to engage in censorship as you feel - this is your right to delete opinions that you do not agree with and prevent serious discussion.

    For the record, I blog under this name because I too am a public employee (but my spouse is not), and I do not want any backlash at my job. I thought we covered this when I asked you who you thought most bloggers were and why they would be interested in palace politics.

    Sir Winston Churchill once said that “where you stand depends on where you sit” (a thought later echoed by Nelson Mandela). Let’s just assume that maybe one (or both) of them knew a bit more about politics than either you or I (you can dispute this if you have a messiah complex, I’m just asking you to assume it for the moment).

    Assuming Churchill and Mandela knew something, then my statement regarding Councilor Mercier’s viewpoint is (arguably) valid and should be open for discussion rather than censorship (which you seem to love to threaten when someone doesn’t agree with you). Councilor Mercier will see a cost of living raise in her wages and pension which will offset any increase in property taxes that she votes for; my husband will not. Councilors who are more subject to the ebb and flow of the economy (where they sit?) have an incentive to seek economies rather than tax increases (the question of where they stand). Simply, when 100% of your well being is invested in a single enterprise, you have a very high incentive to see that enterprise succeed at all costs… If everything you earned was used to pay off your mortgage, you would be concerned about home prices as you approached retirement… wouldn’t you? If Alan Kazanjian were still a city council member, I would expect him to be in favor of votes that increased construction spending. The more invested or dependent you are on a system, the less likely you will act to deter its growth.

    But of course king Jack, you are still free to be a censor and quash any opinion that disagrees.

  7. Jack Says:

    You can’t play victim when we all know the rules. The Admin is ultimately judge, jury and executioner. Or, censorer, as the case may be.

    And we all answer to Mistress Lynne.

    That said, you are completely wrong about a key point. You do NOT have to write something I agree with. I prefer you didn’t.

    But don’t come on and shit on other Lowellians without good cause or a sense of style.

    I am not a fan of Mercier and will jab her governing when afforded a window of opportunity. But, by virtue of her election, she deserves some modicum of respect. And, whether you like it or not, I get to set the bar on that.

    All the greats of our time know, the internet is a big place.

  8. evelyn Says:

    Again Jack with the profanity? First your “ass-hat” language, now fecal matter references? Just because it is in a dictionary doesn’t mean it isn’t vulgar. I am providing you a link that I hope you will use to expand your vocabulary. http://thesaurus.com/

    No one is crying victim here. However, I am not sure why you think it is unfair to point out when someone directly (as opposed to generally) benefits from something? We do this for and to all sorts of people and city councilors are equally subject to scrutiny and criticism. I will be as critical of Mercier as Elliot or Martin or Caulfield. I don’t know if you are looking for a political appointment or not, but this ‘don’t criticize councilors with respect to motive or benefit’ approach is hardly consistent with the concept of promoting open and professional government.

    The internet is a big place, but a closed mind can be confining.

  9. Jack Says:

    You remind me of a fictional character, Grima Wormtongue.

    Please, feel free to exhaust yourself here. Your style is half conjurer and half rhetorical diaherra. Should I find you are retarding the participation of others, well, then that’s that.

  10. Eric Says:

    @Evelyn - Explain how Rita Mercier benefits from a tax increase? Are you implying that her salary is a percentage of tax revenue?

    P.S. Your implicit accusation that Jack is batting for Rita suggests you’ve never read his work before.

  11. evelyn Says:

    @ Eric - I have never heard of such a system (except for North Korea maybe?) where a tax increase goes directly to a politician as a bonus. Where have you seen this? Why would you think that is how Lowell works? Why would you think anyone else does?

    I pointed out that persons who have a direct (payroll) benefit from income tax revenue are apt to be in favor of increasing taxes over decreasing payrolls. Stating the obvious is apparently cartoonish/disrespectful and grounds for threatening censorship.

  12. Eric Says:

    I can’t believe I’m replying. YOU said she directly benefits from a tax increase. NOT me.

  13. Joe S Says:

    @Eric - no she didn’t say that.

  14. G. Patton Says:

    This thread is troubling. I have enjoyed stopping by this site from time to time. However, threatening to ban a comment that is not slanderous, profane, or even wrong seems a bit to militaristic to me. It appears an attempt to stifle rather than encourage participation. Not the type of site I am anxious to return to. By the way I fully support Rita Mercier but that should not be the point.

  15. Eric Says:

    Perhaps Jack was thinking of purging your comments because they’re ridiculous and full of internal contradictions. It’s likely that he thinks you’re a troll and you should take that as a compliment. If I had written your comments I would hope to be considered and asshole, rather than as dumb as I appear.

  16. Eric Says:

    Someone - anyone - explain the councilors benefit from tax increases claim.

  17. Eric Says:

    “pointed out that persons who have a direct (payroll) benefit from income tax revenue are apt to be in favor of increasing taxes over decreasing payrolls.” - Evelyn

    You were saying, Joe S?

  18. Thom Says:

    A a disclaimer I know Lynne well and though we disagree on most things politically I admire her commitment and passion. I stop by the site often because it is interesting. I know Lynne has been very busy of late but the I find the addition of Jack as a moderator troubling. I know Lynne would not do so for this reason but it’s as if Jack was added as a Simon Cowell type personality. He is frequently snide, insulting or profane. Now we can add threatening because someone had the temerity to write something he didn’t like.

  19. Joe S Says:

    Yes, Eric, the statement that people who have a direct benefit from higher taxes are apt to support those higher taxes is a general statement, but that is different than tying her vote to increase taxes to her own salary (as you have previously questioned, there is no direct link).

  20. Jack Says:

    @ All

    Once again, the canard that my ‘threat to censor’ was linked to my agreement/disagreement with the author. That is NOT so.

    If any comment crosses a subjective line, I will exercise the prerogative afforded me. If I cross a subjective line, the forum can call me out. Or, worse case, the blog owner can cast me into internet exile. I will take my medicine, like a big boy.

    That said, I read this blog every day. I read every letter of every diary and comment. This blog has a pulse and my finger is on it.

    So, evelyn did NOT say anything I could not accept or allow to be posted. It stands there, above. My problem is with the tone or the implied insult that Rita Mercier is a parasite. My opinion is that she deserves better, so I checked evelyn and gave a warning. Knowing evelyn’s every word, and having the ability to easily read every comment from “her” IP address, I can put any given statement into a historical context.

    Finally, my finger is on the pulse and I am trusted to ensure that the vital signs are kept healthy and productive.

    The internet is a big place.

  21. joe from Lowell Says:

    I would expect Councilor Mercier to support tax increases.

    Well, you would be wrong; she has almost always opposed proposals to increase property taxes.

    BTW, this is downright funny:

    I have never heard of such a system (except for North Korea maybe?) where a tax increase goes directly to a politician as a bonus. Where have you seen this? Why would you think that is how Lowell works? Why would you think anyone else does?
    I pointed out that persons who have a direct (payroll) benefit from income tax revenue are apt to be in favor of increasing taxes over decreasing payrolls.

    What is this, a joke?

  22. Smooth Says:

    Wow. You guys are nuts today. Lol. Can someone start a new thread with intelligent discourse, please.

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