Why I am Running for West District Councilor in Methuen

Former City Councilor and School Committeeman Kenneth Willette now IN the West End Council Race.By: Kenneth Willette – August, 2013

Based on constructive and positive feedback I received from political supporters, family members and friends in Methuen’s West End, I decided recently to join the race for West District Councilor. I have watched, with great dismay, the actions of the Methuen City Council over the past two years, which enacted a combination of counterproductive policy decisions during a fragile economic recovery, and absolutely failed to pass substantial and cost-saving reform measures. Had enough of the Methuen City Council? Are you ready for conservative leadership?

It readily appears that the Methuen City Council was in an incredible rush to approve a new meals tax, augment the ambulance fee, and hike property taxes in consecutive years. While these tax and fee increases bolster the coffers at Methuen City Hall, the city council also condoned a sizable expansion of personnel within the halls of the Searles Building. Please keep in mind that this influx of new revenue coincided with the retirement of old school construction debt and the conversion of Holy Family Hospital into a for-profit, and therefore taxable enterprise. The retirement of previous school construction debt and the new for-profit hospital status will directly aid the high school construction project without impacting taxpayers.

Meanwhile, residents have only recently started to see a small glimmer of hope in very modest employment gains, marginal home price increases and some traction in personal and household assets. The last two-year cycle was the absolute worst possible time for the introduction of the meals tax, the elevation of property taxes and the approval of higher ambulance fees. Therefore, as part of my platform, I will not vote for any municipal budget over the next two years that calls for increasing residential property taxes. We need a cooling off period without new taxes and fees. I kept my promise before as a former Councilor At-Large, and I will do it again if you give me your vote!

The sad state of affairs continues as the city council abjectly failed to join the GIC health insurance system for state workers and some municipalities, even though it is projected to save Methuen between $1.5 and $2 million every year; it has proven to have lower annual premium growth as compared to municipal, state and nationwide insurance plans; and it offers more choices, less costly deductibles and lower premiums for workers. My platform calls for us to join the GIC as soon as possible in 2014. Any derived savings would be distributed on the following ratio—50% placed in a fund to stabilize the tax rate, 35% to help mitigate municipal workers’ health insurance costs, and 15% to start replacing outdated and obsolete public safety equipment. I want to work in good faith with the unions, lower their health insurance costs, replace rundown public safety equipment and stabilize the tax rate in Methuen. Why not join the GIC?

Finally, many reform proposals have collected dust over the past two years: — joining the GIC, partnering in a regional 911-dispatch center, outsourcing the IT department, etc. These proposals would have collectively saved Methuen taxpayers millions of dollars. A new city council, sworn into office January 2014 and hopefully composed of a majority of reform-minded and fiscally conservative leaders, will immediately tackle these proposals once again within a 100 day window before the FY 2015 budget deliberations. We are failing the taxpayers by not fulfilling regionalization, consolidation, outsourcing and efficiency benchmarks.

I really look forward to this campaign, as I will actively travel door-to-door and listen intently to the concerns and grievances of West End residents. I respectfully and humbly ask for your support! Please reach out to me anytime at kennethwillette@verizon.net or 978-683-0606.