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Let's Get it Done!
Lawrence City Council President Patrick Blanchette

The city of Lawrence is faced with a mammoth challenge over the next couple of months, dealing with the disposition of city-owned property. 

For the first time in over a decade, the City Attorney’s Office has a handle on most of the tax-title properties, which have crippled the city for years. 

The Office of the City Attorney, under the leadership of attorney Charles Boddy and certain members of his staff, has been quietly acquiring them in a rapid fashion over the past 18 months.  Our city officials are now grappling with what the best uses of these properties are. 

Some properties will certainly be sold to abutters to expand their current properties, just as others will possibly be sold to developers for the purpose of building new homes. Whatever the decision may be, much money is waiting, and much money is needed.

Just last week the City Council Housing Committee recommended the sale of three properties with a total of $200,000 of one-time revenue brought into the city coffers.  This is badly needed revenue and is long overdue. The sale of more properties in the upcoming months is crucial to our city and has prompted the Housing Committee to meet more frequently each month. 

Though the city officials may differ with what the best use of these properties is – the end result will help to balance the current fiscal year’s budget, along with future budgets. 

I believe that city officials need to take a hard look at the properties in question and do a massive sale of this latest bundle of properties recently acquired. If not an auction, similar to the successful efforts in Haverhill, then so be it, but let us move quickly to sell these lots and get them back on the tax rolls.

I believe our City Council is ready, willing, and able to get the job done!

The sale of these lots is a great thing, albeit for side yards, parking, or new homes. But the greatest advantage is that these properties will generate tax revenue moving forward.  The sale may help assist this current fiscal year, but the long term effect is what our officials will forever be proud of. 

Our tax base will forever by broadened in this process, which will help make Lawrence a better place to live. 

The rhetoric by some that Lawrence needs to “pay its fair share” is coming from those who don’t understand our city, nor spend any quality time in our city. 

Current property owners who pay taxes are paying their fair share in Lawrence; however, we need more and we need a larger tax base.  Taxpayers in Lawrence are paying increased bills right now due to the exorbitant assessment of their properties, which is a direct result of recent sales in our city.

The city has taken steps to lower the tax rate. However, the values due to the sales have gone up.  Perhaps those who don’t think Lawrence residents pay their fair share (they know who they are) should take a look at the inflated sales – I’m sure that is all on the up and up!

I have always demanded that the integrity of the neighborhood be our first priority – and I still follow that principle. This is why I am encouraging the sale of these lots to a variety of recipients such as abutters, developers and/or the city itself for off-street parking and open space. 

I believe this approach will benefit the neighborhoods greatly. At this point, we have a grand opportunity to expand our tax base by selling these properties to interested parties and continue to “pay our fair share.” Let’s get it done!

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The March, 2006 Edition of the Valley Patriot
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