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GUEST COLUMN BY MARK TULLY, PT. 1 of 2: ASSESSMENT OUTLOOK GRIM FOR HOMEOWNERS

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BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

Part One of Two Parts

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY JAN. 8, 2020) — Part of THE PLANET‘s commitment to free speech is our “Guest Column” feature, which we make available to anyone who has something to say, can say it with reason and logic, and can present it in readable English. This augments out “Comments” section, thee best and most vibrant (and practically the ONLY) such feature in Berkshire County. Other media claim to love free speech and a frank and even tumultuous exchange of ideas; THE PLANET proves our love.

With that in mind, we present this guest column by Mark Tully. His topic: the upcoming assessments in Pittsfield. In it, he exposes how city officials use state law to scam taxpayers.

———- ooo ———-

PITTSFIELD’s ASSESSMENT SCAM

BY MARK TULLY

I am not an expert in municipal finance, nor do I work in the public sector.  I am a resident and taxpayer of the City of Pittsfield who has seen my property tax bill double over a decade and a half and needed to understand how a local government can apparently increase taxes without end, year after year.  I thought Proposition 2.5 was supposed to limit my real estate tax bill and force the local government to be more responsible with its spending.  After researching the law and reviewing financial reports,  I have concluded that was the intention of the law, but it has only had limited success.

I have broken down this article to the following sections:

  1. Proposition 2.5 explanation and where Pittsfield’s budget is in relation to the “ceiling”
  2. Total property values, assessments, and how the game is rigged to keep values rising
  3. FY20 assessment increases in single family homes and what it means to us
  4. Predictions

1. Proposition 2.5 explanation and where Pittsfield’s budget is in relation to the “ceiling”

Proposition 2 ½ was voted into law in 1980 and enacted in 1982.  At that time, property taxes in Massachusetts far exceeded the national average and there were no controls on levy increases.  (The tax levy is the amount of money a municipality can raise through property taxes.  Property taxes are levied on residential, commercial, open space and personal property.)  The passage of Proposition 2.5 was truly a taxpayer revolt.  For the first time in history a limit was applied to how much revenue an authority can raise through property taxes.  The levy limit was calculated at 2.5% of the community’s fair market assessed value.  At the time, no municipality was close to this limit and the common mindset was that all communities will increase in value through new growth such as new home construction, increase of businesses, and population.  Since there was always a need for additional revenue, Proposition 2.5 allowed the tax levy to increase 2.5% each year as long as the levy was below 2.5% of the community’s total fair market value.  

Therefore, under Proposition 2½; a municipality is subject to two property tax limits:

  1. Levy Increase limit: The annual increase of the property tax levy cannot exceed 2.5%, plus new growth. New growth is the taxable amount from new real property.
  2. Levy Ceiling: The total annual property tax revenue raised by a municipality shall not exceed 2.5% of the assessed value of all taxable property contained in it.

The Massachusetts Division of Local Services was created to record, track, and report the information on every community, https://www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-local-services.  I highly recommend interested readers to peruse the reports on this site.  This is where I obtained most of my data.

If a community needs to invest in infrastructure or other expenditures and has to raise the levy beyond the 2.5% limit, it is possible through the override provision.  The community can vote to override the Levy Limit by a specific amount for a specific purpose.  The community cannot vote to override the Levy Ceiling, however.  Therefore, a community at its ceiling must grow in value in order to increase its tax levy.

Where is Pittsfield’s tax levy in relationship to the levy limit and levy ceiling? 

The graph, FIGURE 1, below depicts Pittsfield’s property tax levy and Proposition 2.5 levy since 2002.  The green line represents Pittsfield’s tax levy each year and the red line represents the levy limit.  In the early 2000’s our levy was at the limit.  Since 2004, however, while our tax levy has increased, the level has remained well below our levy limit.  If a community doesn’t increase its levy to the full limit, the balance becomes excess levy capacity and may be used in the future.

FIGURE 1 – Pittsfield Tax Levy to Levy Limit without Levy Ceiling

pastedGraphic.png

As I mentioned earlier, the Levy Limit (FIGURE 1) is one component of this law.  The Levy Ceiling is the other component.  The graph below, FIGURE 2, shows the Levy Ceiling (blue line).  The blue line historically represents 2.5% of the assessed value of the taxable property in Pittsfield.  The line shows the rapid increase in assessed values from 2004 until the economic crash in 2008.  Since then, on average, the values dropped until 2016, when the city’s total assessed value started increasing again.  Regardless of the recent increase in value, since it is less than 2.5%, the Levy Ceiling and Levy Limit are the same, where the blue and red lines merge from 2016 on.

What does this graph indicate for the future?  Pittsfield’s Levy will continue to rise and the assessed values will rise accordingly to meet the Tax Levy demand.  This is contrary to the intent of Proposition 2.5.

FIGURE 2 – Pittsfield Tax Levy to Levy Ceiling

pastedGraphic_1.png

2. Total property values, assessments and how the game is rigged to keep values rising

I originally created these graphs back in 2015 when it appeared that the City’s assessed value would continue to decline or at best remain flat.  My reasoning was that due to the mortgage bubble, our values rose artificially along with the rest of the country.  Pittsfield’s assessed value grew 65% from 2002 to 2009, an unprecedented and unreasonable increase.  As the bubble burst in 2009, I figured the value would decline and eventually require Pittsfield to reduce the Tax Levy.

 I was wrong.

The City’s assessed value has risen by 10.6% since 2015.  It’s miraculous!  This is the renaissance of Pittsfield!  Where has this growth come from?  For this year, FY2020, the City’s value has grown $103 million with over $91 million coming from residential value growth.  In fact, during the past 3 years, the City’s value has increased by $325 million, with residential value increasing $240 million or 74% of the total growth.  There has been little new growth in housing and an increase in personal property, but the simple fact is that the existing homeowners have seen annual assessment increases upon which our property taxes are based.  

The Tyer administration could afford to lower the tax rate to garner votes for the recent election, because the assessed values and previous record increases made up the difference.  This year, however, now that the election is over, we see another large increase in single family home property taxes.  In fact, out of the past 4 years, The Tyer administration holds the record for the largest tax levy increases in Pittsfield’s history.  

2017 : $4.2 million increase

2018 : $4.4 million increase

2020 : $3.4 million increase

What about last year’s Tax Levy increase, when Linda Tyer ran for re-election?  It was the smallest Tax Levy increase in 15 years, at $960,000, and her campaign promoted this fact heavily.

How is the assessment game rigged?  

I used to track real estate sales weekly and record which sales sold above or below the City’s assessed value.  Each week, the total sell price was below the total assessed value.  I didn’t understand how our property values kept rising when overall property sales indicated the opposite.  Then I downloaded and read the Massachusetts DOR Property Classification Code book.  Each real estate transaction is judged to be either “At Arm’s Length” or “Not At Arm’s Length.” Proposition 2.5 requires the assessment of property to be at “Fair Market Value.”  At some point, Massachusetts developed a system for determining if the sale was at Fair Market Value.  A sale needs to be “At Arm’s Length,” meaning both parties can walk away from the sale and neither party is pressured to sell or buy.  Any sale that is “Not At Arm’s Length” receives an NAL code and is not considered in the assessment calculations.

The most common NAL-coded sales not counted are Foreclosures and Estate sales.  This is how Pittsfield, a poor community with a high percentage of elderly home owners can claim that single -amily home values have increased.  These are the State rules, and they are rigged against reality.  The official data indicates that single-family home values (property code 101) have risen because the 2018 real estate transactions were $6 million higher than FY19 assessments.   Therefore the FY2020 assessment increased 4%.  If you factor back in the NAL codes, however, the 2018 real estate transactions were $734,000 lower than FY19 assessed values, a decrease in property values, not an increase.  These real estate sales are found here – https://dlsgateway.dor.state.ma.us/gateway/DLSPublic/LA3Parcels

If my entire neighborhood was in foreclosure and banks were selling the houses below market rate, would I be able to sell my house for market rate?  No.  Wouldn’t the market rate then be lower?  Not according to the Massachusetts DOR.

Now, incredibly, the Massachusetts State Legislature is considering a bill to review the Proposition 2.5 because many of “Gateway” cities are at their Levy Ceiling and cannot raise taxes as much as they would like.  Will this result in future levy increases beyond 2.5%?  We’ll have to wait and see.

———- ooo ———-

THE PLANET continues with Mark Tully’s expose of the “Assessments Scam” on THE WEEKEND EDITION. In Part II, Tully discusses

  • 3. FY2020 Single Family Home Assessments and How They Affect Us
  • and 4. Predictions for Pittsfield.

You won’t want to miss it.

—————————————————————————————-

“Sometimes the cards aren’t worth a dime if you don’t lay them down” — from The Grateful Dead’s “Truckin.'”

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

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SallySays
SallySays
6 months ago

Wow. Thank you Sir. My taxes increased 7.5 percent for fly 2020, and have skyrocketed since 2009 crash and my house is appraised for less than it was then.

Police Report
Police Report
6 months ago

I like Mark and respect him immensely, this is a very good explanation of assessment and the basics of municipal finance and levy limit.
That said there are errors.
One immediate and fairly large mistake:
“ Levy Increase limit: The annual increase of the property tax levy cannot exceed 2.5%, plus new growth. New growth is the taxable amount from new real property.”

This is not correct, New Growth also includes taxable personal property. Be it furnishings in second homes, space chambers, furniture at Spice, movie theater seats, and even humidors and furnishings in an otherwise illegal smoking lounge.
When a Mayor or City council gives businesses a pass on taxing their space chambers, movie theater seats, illegal humidors, or Fire Cider pots, it has a “triple negative” impact on the taxpayers.
Those items exempt from taxation do not bring in revenue.
Those items exempt from taxation are not considered part of new growth for the duration of their exemption. Often times the exemption is structured in such a way that the items are at or near full depreciation by the time they are taxable, so taxes are never realized on the objects nor do they ever contribute to new growth.
I look forward to the next chapter and the further discussion on this very important topic.

Mark Tully
Mark Tully
Reply to  Police Report
6 months ago

PR – Thank you for the encouragement. You are correct. I didn’t factor in personal property assessments. Instead, I focused on the residential property assessments and their contribution to the tax levy. After sifting through all the data I realized that the single family home owners (Code 101) are the largest contributors to the tax levy, so I selected that class to address. In fact, since the tax bills were mailed out, I have fielded 3 calls from my neighbors about their increases. It appears that the mayor’s increase has really hit home to the residents. (pun intended)

Magic
Magic
Reply to  Mark Tully
6 months ago

Perhaps I should have allowed someone to come into my house. My evaluation went from $141,300 to $170,000 for 2020. Maybe my $30,000 increase is to off-set Ms. Tyers $30,000 decrease.

Police Report
Police Report
Reply to  Magic
6 months ago

You should file an abatement.

Magic
Magic
Reply to  Police Report
6 months ago

I get widows benefits can I still ask for abatement

Police Report
Police Report
Reply to  Magic
6 months ago

Absolutely. Whatever benefits you get do not limit your ability to seek an abatement. Valuation and assessment are local issue. Statutory exemptions are actually a state program.

Depending on the type of exemption, cities and towns are reimbursed by the state, up to 100% for that exemption.

Statutory exemptions do no limit your legal right to seeking an abatement or contesting your valuation.

Johnny Absurd
Johnny Absurd
Reply to  Mark Tully
6 months ago

Great information to the extent my old brain can process it. As a senior citizen on a fixed income I went to city hall today and reluctantly but dutifully paid my property taxes. Should I expect a thank you from the likes of the Haddads or Tierneys or other benefactors for subsidizing their reduced contributions or just suck it up and except that I am just a tool in Kerwoods tool box?

SallySays
SallySays
Reply to  Johnny Absurd
6 months ago

Suck it up Johnny. Don’t cha know your royal screwin is for the greater good of a dynamic, vibrant, and collaborative community, oh and I almost forgot diverse too. But not good enough for the mayor who campaigned on tax relief then raised em 8 years straight – Ruberto bought a condo for close to half a mill in Lenox instead of on North St, the heart of the Renaissance, or is it a mirage???

The Dream Team
The Dream Team
Reply to  Johnny Absurd
6 months ago

Did you pay the whole amount or just the quarterly installment ?

Police Report
Police Report
Reply to  Mark Tully
6 months ago

As right you should! And you did a great job! Class 101 is where the rubber meets the road in almost every community.
It’s a travesty the manipulations and gyrations that both mayor Linda Tyer and Kufflinks Kerwood have gone though to milk taxpayers.

Paul
Paul
6 months ago

Great read, broken down very well making it easy to understand. Looking forward to part 2.

Jumpin Joe Curtis
Jumpin Joe Curtis
6 months ago

I’m paying almost double the taxes I paid less than a decade ago. Only a fool wouldn’t pay attention to such increases.

then again, most of the country is also in debt and living beyond their means

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

The Bottom Line – Pittsfield politics is totally predictable! Every fiscal year, Pittsfield politics raises municipal taxes by 5%. Every fiscal year, Pittsfield politics borrows over ten million dollars for its capital budget. Pittsfield politics has hundreds of millions of dollars in debts, liabilities, and opeb costs. Pittsfield politics tax base is shrinking due to losses in population and living wage jobs, which ain’t coming back in our lifetime. In Pittsfield, the taxpayers, proverbially named Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, always lose, while the Good Old Boys and their vested/special interests always win. That means that if you are politically connected, Pittsfield politics takes good care of you. But, if you are an average taxpayer, you are getting screwed each and every year. In closing, Pittsfield politics is a case study on how not to run a municipality!

Gerard Fischer
Gerard Fischer
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

The political deception noted in the Melie note suggests politicians and their special interests, I think in Massachusetts we tended to think corporate lobbyists but what drains the Cities and States are SEIU and teacher unions, not rank and file , it’s the 500,000 dollar union bosses who hide from critique behind hard working members and spend millions of dues to support corruptible politicians. House needs a spring cleaning of city Hall

Barbados
Barbados
6 months ago

I learned a lot from this article. It puts details to what we call know is coming, a royal screwing by the assessment scam. Great piece.

Kaleeve
Kaleeve
Reply to  Barbados
6 months ago

Mr. Tully or anyone. Are the goal assessments listed on assessments current. I had an audit and it went way up. A neighbor hasn’t had one and went down?

SallySays
SallySays
Reply to  Kaleeve
6 months ago

The city website has a link for assessments for fy 20 and 19 but the back up mapping data link GIS is from fy2018, so you can’t do an objective review

Mark Tully
Mark Tully
Reply to  Kaleeve
6 months ago

Kaleeve – Sorry but I’m not sure what you mean by goal assessments.

Gerard Fischer
Gerard Fischer
6 months ago

Very interesting how they trick the taxpayer, similar to unemployment numbers gaged in different formats. The public released ones are of people unemployed minus those who unemployment benefits have run out, those not seeking to work and on the “dole” and students and biggest of all the self employed and contractors who may be out of work. Add those on Strike and the bottom line is a lie. Best to look a Labor Force Numbers, even in an excellent economy, Labor Force of those able and old enough only 70 % work( check that % but I think it’s correct. Gerard Fischer

The school committee
The school committee
6 months ago

Tyer underfunds snow removal on purpose.Then they go to free cash and pay the bill and that is deceptive because your allowed to pay this bill after July1st leagally.Imagine 3.3 million in unfunded snow removal.

The Dream Team
The Dream Team
Reply to  The school committee
6 months ago

TSC
Obviously you don’t pay attention. If they put the 3 million in the snow and ice budget then the budget wouldn’t be balanced and therefore would likely need a prop 2 1/2 override. It’s no different than buying season tix to the Red Sox putting them on the AMEX and then using the money in the savings account to pay the AMEX BILL.

The school committee
The school committee
6 months ago

Does anyone know How much Eberwien will be payed n his new BS position.This guys on tax payed Welfare

Jumpin Joe Curtis
Jumpin Joe Curtis
Reply to  The school committee
6 months ago

Isn’t he still at Lee until the end of his contract? And helping run that bogus task force that’s going to save our educational system?

He was a shmoe as a teacher at taconic, I have no doubt he still is. I’ll stick with Malkas

Johnny Absurd
Johnny Absurd
6 months ago

If you go to the city website and click on PROPERTY MAPS on the left, then type in your address in the upper right search box and then a little three words PROPERTY REPORT CARD, you can get info on your home. Some of you may find you are being taxed for decks or finished basement or attics or remodeled bathrooms that you do not have. If so get to the assessors office quick and have them come out and check it out. Might save you some real money.

Loandbehold
Loandbehold
Reply to  Johnny Absurd
6 months ago

One thing I have gained in knowledge following the Planet is many ways this Mayor is screwing me financially

Merry & Bright
Merry & Bright
Reply to  Loandbehold
6 months ago

Totally agree! What is even worse than Lovely Linda screwing the taxpayer is that the majority of the City Council goes right along with her! The elected officials have completely forgotten who they are suppose to represent. They are not paid and given free health insurance to just represent Lovely Vibrant Dynamic Linda, they are suppose to be representing the hard working taxpayers. The only Councilors on the new CC that will represent the taxpayers the correct way are Morandi and Connell. Of course LVD Linda was bragging about this in her speech. Just wondering if LVD Linda get’s her ex-boyfriend Wynn his new Police Station will that help the PPD to control the traffic issues in Pittsfield like the speeders, red light runners, hit and runs (heard there have been two pedestrian hit and runs in the past week), people driving with no insurance, registrations or inspected cars?

Johnny2Shoes
Johnny2Shoes
Reply to  Loandbehold
6 months ago

Tax Sutra: politicians screwing taxpayers in many ways.

JohnnyTwoCents
JohnnyTwoCents
Reply to  Johnny Absurd
6 months ago

Johnny, these property cards are beased on 2018 data. Note the date on the cards. Why can’t the city post the current property cards, from 2019?

Johnny Absurd
Johnny Absurd
Reply to  JohnnyTwoCents
6 months ago

I bet either Barnum or Bailey could answer that one for us.

Thomas More
Thomas More
Reply to  Johnny Absurd
6 months ago

tried that – can find nothing about report card

Johnny Absurd
Johnny Absurd
Reply to  Thomas More
6 months ago

Once you get your property to come up look on the left side. Their should be a green box that says VIEW DETAILS. Under this you should see REPORT CARD. If once you have put in your address it does not come up but a street map does, click on where your house should be and that may bring it up. Mine does not come up unless I do this. ALSO, though this report card may not reflect latest info but it may still show added on improvements that never happened from 10 years ago. That is when they added a non existent deck and patio to my home. The people they hired to go around and do this were working on commission.

JohnnyTwoCents
JohnnyTwoCents
Reply to  Thomas More
6 months ago

another way is to put pointer over any property on map you want, use zoon in and out feature, and then click on the property you want to see, then on left, you can click for report card.

The Dream Team
The Dream Team
6 months ago

Mark I’m just wondering if your wife voted for tax increases while she served as city councilor in ward 1? Why didn’t she say anything about this while on the council?

Maggie May
Maggie May
Reply to  The Dream Team
6 months ago

Great question! and?

Zarowinginn
Zarowinginn
Reply to  The Dream Team
6 months ago

Mark,there is currently a home that had been for sale asking it’s assessed value 170 Now the home is assessed at 140? Believe it is Ward one. What gives?

Mark Tully
Mark Tully
Reply to  Zarowinginn
6 months ago

Address?

Liftwiggins Pockey
Liftwiggins Pockey
Reply to  Mark Tully
6 months ago

291 lenox

Mark Tully
Mark Tully
Reply to  Liftwiggins Pockey
6 months ago

I don’t know why it declined, a few others did as well.

Brain Pickalow
Brain Pickalow
Reply to  The Dream Team
6 months ago

Mike McCarthy is not the answer to the cowboys immediate needs but it is a whole lot better than the giants selection for new coach. And do we really need someone explaining the assessments or how the mayor is suffocating the hangers on?

Johnny Absurd
Johnny Absurd
Reply to  Brain Pickalow
6 months ago

The mayor deserves to get credit for her efforts

Low Rhidah
Low Rhidah
Reply to  Johnny Absurd
6 months ago

Yeah, and Lo will recover from his five hundred vote dismantling. A devastating loss considering his phone was burning up. Happy New Year Lo!

Mark Tully
Mark Tully
Reply to  The Dream Team
6 months ago

Dream Team – This wasn’t known when she was first on the council. I remember watching a finance meeting in early 2014 when the Scanlon auditors briefly touched on the levy limit and didn’t even mention the ceiling. As far as voting for increases, she voted against the first budget presented to her and was heavily criticized by the local press. Subsequent budgets she supported every attempt to reduce the budget, but it wasn’t enough. The reality is that the mayor will usually prevail on budgets and appropriations.

Mad Trapper
Mad Trapper
6 months ago

It seem’s the Iran have shot down a Urakrine passenger plane.

Using missiles

Hot stuff, it says the debris of what looks like the Tor M1 SAM were found near the crash site of Ukraine Flight PS752. I’m not sure though, it’s quite unlikely that the warhead would remain intact (as suggested by the photo) after impact (with a passenger plane). https://t.co/nGOwjO8xNF

Acute Angina
Acute Angina
6 months ago

Let’s look 5, 10, 15 and 20 years down the road. The homeowners who are now in their late 50’s will be dying off as the years pass by. Many of the younger residents will continue to move away. So who will be around to buy all the available homes? What will the Gobsigs do when there are very few residents left to tax?

Pocklette Loes
Pocklette Loes
Reply to  Acute Angina
6 months ago

Let’s call these property cards.Linda’s cash cards.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Acute Angina
6 months ago

By then, Pittsfield politics will be financially insolvent and/or bankrupt. The GOB/SIG’s will have moved far away from Pittsfield like Jimmy Ruberto already did when he bought a near half million dollar condo in Lenox last fall of 2019, along with his condo in Naples, Florida. It is all a shakedown operation! Just look at what happened at the Berkshire Museum. Jimmy Ruberto and Gerry Doyle led the way for the Berkshire Museum’s selling of Norman Rockwell and other historic paintings for tens of millions of dollars. Who will be left in Pittsfield’s dark future years from now? A lot of poor people who wish they had the means to move out of Pittsfield.

SallySays
SallySays
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

What did Doyle have to do with it?

Goldinmiear
Goldinmiear
Reply to  SallySays
6 months ago

Inventor.

The school committee
The school committee
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

Bouvier and Eberwien were also on Museums Board.Bouvier also supported Electric rates doubling.

Johnny Absurd
Johnny Absurd
Reply to  Acute Angina
6 months ago

The Sunday Jan 5, Eagle has a big story about declining population in Berkshire County. Although the by far largest decline was from Pittsfield, that info was noted in a very small paragraph. Pretty obvious they did not want to highlight that glaring fact. So in the last 9 years another, almost 5000, people have left the dying city of Pittsfield. And that is the net loss because in reality many more people did leave but were replaced by others coming in. And it is safe to say that many of the people coming in had no idea what they were walking into although social services are abundant and highly prized by some.
It might be quite illuminating if someone could interview a third of these people and see why they left. I am sure the fact that skyrocketing taxes, horrible schools and a crumbling roads had almost nothing to do with it. Maybe they just loved their children and wanted a better future for them.

Officer Joe Bolton
Officer Joe Bolton
6 months ago

melle mentions ruberto with his properties in Naples and noe Lenox. How about the lovely Linda. She’s now got two $700,000 properites, the one in the city’s only GAATED COMMUNITY as far away from the city as you can get literally and the one that ghetto slum Vail Colorado. Wondering how she and hubby can afford to carry all that?

Gobsig
Gobsig
Reply to  Officer Joe Bolton
6 months ago

Word has it that Barry and the guy from the tractor place on 20 west are partners in a pot shop…… big bucks.

Jumpin Joe Curtis
Jumpin Joe Curtis
Reply to  Gobsig
6 months ago

Makes sense, since the only ones reaping the rewards are those politically connected. People may fear Barry, they don’t respect him. Heard that many times.

The school committee
The school committee
6 months ago

Behnke and her Husband make 16k a month off veterans on SS

Police Report
Police Report
6 months ago

Off Topic:
DA Andrea Harrington has set a number of records with her first year in office:
First Woman DA in Berkshire County
Least Experienced DA elected in MA. She has the least number of criminal cases prosecuted before being elected.
First DA to have so little court experience that she put her right hand on the Bible and raised her left hand when being sworn in.
Each day she’s in office she sets a new record for most days a sitting DA (or ADA) has gone without trying a case.

Side note: for those paying attention crime is down the city. Problem is it really isn’t, crimes are now being completely ignored. Any petit theft, any theft without violence, up to $1,000 is being completely ignored by the PPD. Thefts over $1,000 are not being investigated but you can come in and file a report. Thefts without the blandishments of a weapon or physically contact, come in file a report.
Chief Wynn has given the marching orders as to crime
Meanwhile drug dealers are at least finding a use for the abandon mall parking lot. Drug deals gone bad and a shooting range with dealers as a target.

EWendt
EWendt
Reply to  Police Report
6 months ago

Wow. Dan, you could public records request any PPD documents written in the last year regarding arrests and crimes, right?

Johnny Absurd
Johnny Absurd
Reply to  EWendt
6 months ago

Won’t help if the crime was not logged. There is a new system in town to make Pittsfield seem as safe as Margo Largo. come on in and set a spell. You won'[t get mugged. I promise. But if you do it won’t get logged and so will not have happen3ed.

EWendt
EWendt
Reply to  Johnny Absurd
6 months ago

I’m talking about whether there is such at policy at PPD and if so is it written, and if not, why not?

Maggie May
Maggie May
Reply to  EWendt
6 months ago

Ask Craig Swinson ^

Jumpin Joe Curtis
Jumpin Joe Curtis
Reply to  Police Report
6 months ago

At least now we know what happened at the Berkshire Mall the other night. Heroin Addicts Gone Wild.

Probably couldn’t find their safe shooting gallery or had enough gas to get to the free methadone clinic. Sorry, gas is reimbursed by the state

Johnny Absurd
Johnny Absurd
Reply to  Jumpin Joe Curtis
6 months ago

What was the story on that? Did it make the paper? Seen something on the 411 and then it got disappeared for some reason.

SallySays
SallySays
Reply to  Police Report
6 months ago

This failure to investigate crime stuff sounds absolutely preposterous. If is true, what is the reasoning behind it PR?

Jumpin Joe Curtis
Jumpin Joe Curtis
Reply to  SallySays
6 months ago

Harrington fancies herself a progressive like the Suffolk County DA. Pretty sure that one has half a brain and a straight smile

Police Report
Police Report
Reply to  SallySays
6 months ago

There is no reason to investigate crime if the DA will not prosecute. DA Andrea Harrington has made it well known that she supports progressive Rollins style list of offenses not to prosecute and has made it well known to both the mayor and Chief of Police. As such when people call into dispatch, they are being told to come in and file a report for their insurance but not to expect a criminal prosecution. If they don’t, then the crime doesn’t even exist.

Just Monday a person stole the tip jar and two donation jars from a local eatery on Tyler Street.
The owner called the cops, the police asked if a weapon was used. He was told to come in and file a report but the police will not come out and there is “nothing” they car do.

SallySays
SallySays
Reply to  Police Report
6 months ago

I say BS. If I were the chief I’d proceed as before and if Harrington ditches the cases, I’d go public with a press conference and demand Tyer be present. Furthermore, these scumbag crooks deserve to be investigated and charge regardless of Harrington and it gets them in the police data bases. Zero tolerance and broken windows works.

Shakes
Shakes
Reply to  danvalenti
6 months ago

Should the taxpayers pay more for more policing/incarceration? are they willing?

Teecha Teecha
Teecha Teecha
Reply to  Police Report
6 months ago

Hell, I guess it’s time to make another round of thefts at the local Mobil Marts and Angelina Sub shops. As long as I cover my face and don’t use a weapon I won’t even be pursued?

I think I’ll hit the West Stockbridge Market first.

Anderson williams
Anderson williams
Reply to  Police Report
6 months ago

“So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.”

Johnny2Shoes
Johnny2Shoes
Reply to  Police Report
6 months ago

PR,
Some criminals are actually using calculators to add up the $ in merchandise they are stealing so they don’t go over the $1000. mark. Flash Mob along with group theft shopping is also a huge issue and are getting away with no consequences to their actions.

Kermit Frog
Kermit Frog
6 months ago

Thanks, this is great reporting and thanks PR for the details. Thanks PR for also mentioning the BS tax rebates that the presiding mayor and those before and those after (To be sure) use to buy political support. It’s much like a peerage being offered to support a feudal lord. I heard a grant of 5k was given to an acupuncture practitioner. Apparently they used to be housed at the Beacon. God knows what that was hush money for but direct grants need to stop. Downtown Pittsfield Inc should be shuttered, it’s a money laundering enterprise. If the government has an action plan that can’t be conducted and is beyond the scope of their employees then they really shouldn’t be doing it anyway. NYS will never recover from their frivolous spending, be it Republican or Democrat running the show. Let’s not follow their path. How many city government employees are there in Pittsfield? 500? Also, how many clounclers are in public funded positions already??

Blox Dimund
Blox Dimund
Reply to  Kermit Frog
6 months ago

Sturgeon has a Radio Show,I thought he was finished after b r k Who is the guest he had on today? Some Shakespearean actor from Ashfield,same old Sturgeon boring kids to death. Oh wait, kids don’t listen to t b r because they’re in school.

Scat Dadee
Scat Dadee
Reply to  Blox Dimund
6 months ago

He needed tickets from her for Sundays performance.

Truthsayer
Truthsayer
6 months ago

The problem with all local municipalities is that at budget time, a sudden windfall appears in extra money from some source. The money is used to start new or expand existing programs. The question that I and several others asked at meeting was, “How do we pay for this when the money dries up?” Then, you add the rules regarding municipal budgets wherein if a department doesn’t spend the amount budgeted they lose it. So, what do the department heads do? They blow the money.

All of this results in the need to increase the burden on taxpayers. When you add what it takes to pay off health and pensions (with the ridiculous, non-existent in the private sector benefits), taxpayers get screwed year in and year out.

Unless something is done to address health and pensions, the inability to carry unspent departmental budget funds forward into the next fiscal year, and to actually terminate programs that have lost state or grant funding, this is going to get worse and worse.

We all pay a lot more in taxes and we get fewer and fewer benefits for every penny spent (or wasted.) It’s insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over again without making fundamental changes to the way things are done, to limit pensions and retirement ages, etc.

The school committee
The school committee
Reply to  Truthsayer
6 months ago

Yup

Kermit Frog
Kermit Frog
Reply to  The school committee
6 months ago

I agree too. It’s like ( ok dumb analogy) but if you look at a household budget – do we need the cable? Do we need the x many cell phones etc – the public sector is not allowed to do that. It’s someone’s job or some program in the line and we respect working people and want them to keep jobs. But stop spending, reduce, limit, it’s the only sensible way., If you have studied public administration you learn that you need to access to results. Democrats get livid at this – unless it’s the military spending cut. But effectiveness should be assessed. I like Bloomberg, despite misgivings in many ways because the US as whole country is too much debt and spend.

Shakes
Shakes
Reply to  Kermit Frog
6 months ago

How many years have republicans controlled Congress now? 6? And you blame democrats?

Trump2020
Trump2020
6 months ago

Whoever votes these socialists into office has no right to complain. You get what you vote for. Suck it up.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

Can you guess who this man is?

In 2001, he and his wife moved to Pittsfield into his mother’s home from Texas. He ran for Mayor of Pittsfield, but he lost to Sara Hathaway. Two years later after he put his mother into a nursing home while staying put in his mother’s home, he ran for Mayor again, and he won. During his 8 years as Mayor, Pittsfield lost thousands of residents to population loss, and hundreds of living wage job were lost to job loss. As Mayor, he raised municipal taxes by high margins and told local taxpayers they had to “sacrifice” their hard-earned money for Pittsfield’s so-called “revitalization”. He even spent tens of millions of mostly borrowed taxpayer dollars on downtown Pittsfield’s so-called “renaissance”, including a couple of million dollars from GE’s settlement fund on downtown Pittsfield’s culture and the arts venues. He was known as the leader of Pittsfield politics’ “Good Old Boys” where he heaped glowing praise on creepy Carmen Massimiano and other local career politicians who are interrelated from inbred Pittsfield families. He always had a condo in Naples, Florida, and never purchased a residential property in Pittsfield. After stepping down as Mayor, he went onto lead the controversial and horrible propaganda machine to help the Berkshire Museum sell its most valuable, historic, and donated pieces of art, including two paintings by Norman Rockwell, for tens of millions of dollars. Last fall of 2019, he bought a nearly $1/2-million condo in Lenox instead of in Pittsfield.

Answer: Jimmy Ruberto

Commonghea
Commonghea
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

Sure pick on Carm when he’s on his death bed. Your no better for that J M.

Snhsonofbivh
Snhsonofbivh
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

Why are we questing when you tell us the answer.Several days off for you please.

Stuartsonbich
Stuartsonbich
Reply to  danvalenti
6 months ago

This bail reform is falling flat all over the country. Criminals including those with the reform tag, are JUMPING BAIL. Same will happen with the current drug treatment programs concerning druggie reform. It’s an endless cycle,both.Wake up taxpayers.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  danvalenti
6 months ago

Thanks for the feedback. Dan Valenti’s blog on Pittsfield politics and beyond is awesome! I didn’t know that Carm is on his death bed. It is true that Pittsfield politics and its distressed local economy is bigger than Jimmy. I agree with Dan V.’s statement: “It didn’t work.” I still love the town I grew up in; good old Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I wish things were better!

Lardner Steppopovitch
Lardner Steppopovitch
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

We don’t care,and Carm is ok

Lardner Steppopovitch
Lardner Steppopovitch
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

AIf skinny legs didn’t come back as a former member of our community, all we would be hearing would be continuous verbose assault about Nuciforo. You shold be thanking Berto for coming home as it made you refrain from your verbal blowtorching of said former Senator Nucy,whom you have despised for years.

The school committee
The school committee
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 months ago

People born in Lenox cant afford Lenox and children of Stockbridge cant afford Stockbridge.There is almost no reason to move to Stockbridge.There are dozens of reasons to move to Lenox as it has Pittsfield as it neighbor where most work.School choice has ruined public schools and 40% of Lenox Schools are out of district.School choice is racist

SallySays
SallySays
Reply to  danvalenti
6 months ago

Sally Says Mr. Melle has a few good points. Ruberto campaigned on tax relief, and taking his sales skill with his suitcase and brining in real jobs – he raised taxes every year and only created a couple real jobs, a snow job and a con job as you would say Dan, oh and a job for his buddy Barrett. Yes he tried, but he failed, and pissed away our GE jobs fund in the process.

As to him moving to Lenox – it is the height of hypocrisy for a former mayor who championed the downtown renaissance, and Pittsfield becoming the best small city in New England, to buy a condo in the Berkshires, but not in Pittsfield. And no it’s not a crime to do so, just hypocritical to the max, and if it was a crime, it sounds like Harrington wouldn’t prosecute, so the police wouldn’t investigate.

Gobsig
Gobsig
Reply to  SallySays
6 months ago

Rolodex Ruberto leaving Pittsfield is an insult to himself. An admission of his ineffectiveness.

Shakes
Shakes
Reply to  danvalenti
6 months ago

The colonials. How many hundred of thousands did that debacle cost the taxpayers?

Shakes
Shakes
Reply to  danvalenti
6 months ago

The ball club reimbursed the City the complete cost of operating the stadium? HAHAHAHA

Lardner Steppopovitch
Lardner Steppopovitch
6 months ago

Allison da da dad da da da da da.Allison..

Pat
Pat
6 months ago

Shooting at the Berkshire Mall is terrible and further evidence of this area going downhill. A thriving shopping center, which the mall used to be, would not attract this kind of activity. Leaving places vacant and deteriorating will just attract crime. Does anybody in this area have a plan to bring prosperity back to Berkshire County? Does the brain power just not exist for this to happen?

Monculd Fabullachic
Monculd Fabullachic
Reply to  Pat
6 months ago

Even the Police are referring eyesore Hess Forest as the ‘ old Hess ‘ Five years of Tyers blight program and the biggest eyesore still stands? And the Planet actually filmed it before she entered office.

Denzel Trandonsummerville
Denzel Trandonsummerville
Reply to  Pat
6 months ago

Actually heard a motor vehicle citation was written today. Now that’s something.

Denzel Trandonsummerville
Denzel Trandonsummerville
Reply to  Pat
6 months ago

An intruder ransacked my neighbors car and refuses to tell police. She states what can they do? Why bother.

The school committee
The school committee
Reply to  Pat
6 months ago

Tricia Bouvier and Smitty have the answers.

Charles Trzcinka
Charles Trzcinka
6 months ago

In a foreclosure a bank (or other financial institution) takes over the property and sells it. It is a sale at “arms length” because both the bank and the buyer can walk away. Thanks for the data showing that Pittsfield real estate was $734,000 lower than assessed values if foreclosed sales are included and $6 million higher if they are not. I’ll bet that the miss-classification can be challenged in court which a large property owner has a strong incentive to do. The Massachusetts DOR Property Classification Code book is not a bible. A quick reference to how other states handle these sales should be sufficient for any court.