- Name: Russell Donovan
- Age: 64
- Occupation: Retired
- Political office: None
Peabody Patch: If elected to the City Council, what issue would be first priority for you? What is one area you would like to see the city devote more resources to?
Russ Donovan: I would ask for a public update on the city’s pension, non-pension, post-employment benefit liabilities and the city’s plans to meet those obligations. The last figures I read showed an unfunded accrued liability of $120+ million for the city pension plans and a $300+ million unfunded accrued liability for the non-pension, post-employment benefits!
Patch: Peabody property taxes continue to be among the lowest in the area, along with many other fees homeowners or residents may pay in the city. Are taxpayers' getting their money's worth; is the city not spending enough to provide services, education, etc; or are Peabody taxpayers still paying too much?
Donovan: The present and past administrations are still harvesting from former mayor Peter Torigian’s success in controlling city spending and the stable taxes his administration had on Peabody homeowners’ tax bills during the difficult economic times of the '80s and '90s. They tout Peabody’s low taxes to justify spending more. Even though the Peabody homeowners have seen significant increases in their real estate taxes in the past decade, Peabody continues to keep business taxes down, yet businesses move out of the city. I remember at a public hearing the head of Community Development stated property taxes were NOT a major consideration when siting for a business location. The reason for Proposition 2-½ was government over-spending. Will we have to re-live those times? Affordable housing should also apply to the
taxpaying Peabody homeowners. Government has to be affordable for the homeowners. See my response to Question 1. Who is going to pick up that tab? Not the businesses, they can and are moving out. From what I have read cities and towns are already spending more for employee benefits and wages which are better than what Peabody homeowners/taxpayers get in the private sector. Yet, cities and towns continue with their status quo business practices, their under-funded pension/benefit plans at the expense of the taxpayers, many of whom have seen their retirement plans decimated by real-world economics!
Patch: Under the current mayor's administration there has been a concentrated effort to reinvigorate "pride in Peabody," which many people in the city have rallied around. What is one thing you are proud of about Peabody?
Donovan: Peabody’s people, their diversity and vitality. From a commercial point, the Northshore Mall, without it Peabody would be just another struggling North Shore community.