- Name: Scott Frasca
- Age: 45
- Occupation: Self-employed as a strategic consultant
- Political office: Board of Library Trustees, 8 years
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?
Scott Frasca: My first priority would be to focus more resources on economic development. The economy is still struggling with more than 2,000 people unemployed and 3,000 living below the poverty line. The real unemployment rate in Peabody, when considering those who dropped out of the market or who are underemployed, is 12 percent. Many people are working paycheck to paycheck or are on fixed incomes. The median income in Peabody fell below the state average and the cost of living in Peabody is above the U.S. average. Small business owners especially feel the burden. We need to focus on expanding the tax base by improving the downtown and Centennial Park business areas. As a business owner and President of Making a Difference in Peabody Foundation, I have had an office downtown for 15 years. Having also served as Library Trustee and Vice President of the Peabody Chamber of Commerce, I understand the issues nearby residents feel. When I was president of the library board, I led the fight to create more parking next to the library which resulted in leaving more spaces available to merchants on Main Street. I support the development of a downtown parking garage to further help with parking needs. My charity has assisted many fire and flood victims in the area and I have listened to many merchants who struggled even more due to the construction project. Last spring I brought signatures of merchants who supported storefront opportunities downtown which resulted in a sidewalk bazaar. The city and Downtown Partnership made the event a success. The Peabody Chamber of Commerce and the new Downtown Partnership are key partners to help revitalize the economy. Currently, I am creating a high tech innovation center that will employ 20-25 people and bring hundreds of people a year to the many workshops and receptions that will be scheduled there. The innovation center will develop new enterprises, have welfare to work program, training courses, and help people find new jobs. There will also be a shop local e-commerce site to help promote local businesses. I support the recent safety and beautification efforts on Main Street and believe that it should be extended to the square and adjacent area. We should attract new investors and market the area using gateway grants. In fact, 11 gateway cities that created museum districts generated 4,600 new jobs such as higher end coffee shops and restaurants. If Brockton and Haverhill can succeed, so can Peabody. We should restore flood plain areas; support incentives to reduce the cost of upgrading properties to better withstand flood damage and have a responsible flood mitigation plan. New businesses that move to Peabody should be offered distinct tax rates tied to measurable results such as new jobs.
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?
Frasca: I have talked with thousands of people across the city who say they can’t take the burden of higher taxes. Property taxes have been raised 12 years in a row and what is never mentioned is that the commercial tax rate is one of the highest in the state. We need to expand the tax base by attracting new businesses, which will bring in additional revenue and reduce the need to raise taxes. This will lighten the burden for seniors on fixed incomes and struggling families. I will use my experience as a former budget manager of a $100 million portion of a missile defense contract and focus on every part of the city budget. My concern is to ensure funds are spent efficiently and effectively. Many citizens are concerned with the waiting time for sidewalk and road repairs to be completed near their home. This is an area I will want to discuss further. For example we received $5.7 million in excise tax revenue and I want to ensure residents in neighborhoods see a return on that. With more than $13 million in surplus funds, we can find a balance between not raising taxes, investing in schools and public safety, and maintaining a strong bond rating.
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?
Frasca: I can see that Mayor Bettencourt loves this city and has great pride in it. I love this city too and I am proud of it but I am running because I know I can work with Mayor Bettencourt and others to make Peabody better. I love open space so I am most proud of Brooksby Farm and the West Peabody bike trails. I am also proud of the amount of jobs and commerce at the Northshore Mall and Centennial Industrial Park as well as its potential of being better. The International Festival has been a successful event for 30 years and I am proud of the ethnic diversity of Peabody.