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What do Property Taxes Mean for your Town?

Earlier this year, the Boston Globe published an article comparing the average percentage of change in the property tax bills of owners of single-family homes in Massachusetts municipalities between 2016 and 2012. Unsurprisingly, most municipalities experienced a net increase in their bills, varying from 2% to 33.1%. However, there are a handful of mostly Western municipalities that actually saw a decrease in their average annual bill. The increases or reductions tend to correlate with a municipality’s choice to increase property taxes within the Proposition 2 ½ cap, override Proposition 2 ½, pass debt exclusions or reduce budgets. Property taxes are the major source of funding for municipal budgets, making up a significant portion of spending for school and town services. […]

Community Policing: A Success Story?

Boston, the city on a hill, has always been defined by its history, commitment to education, and diverse immigrant communities. Today, it should be considered an example of successful community policing as well. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, community policing “is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.” Nationwide, this policing model has become increasingly popular among law enforcement agencies. A report, released by the President’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, states that community policing reduces the crime rate because it builds trust between the community and […]

Casino Revenue Projections: A Roll of the Dice?

As the Wynn Resort Casino breaks ground in Everett tomorrow, many predict a booming casino industry in Massachusetts. However, if the Commonwealth’s history with casinos says anything, we should proceed with caution. Plainridge Park Casino, the initial Las Vegas-style slot parlor in Massachusetts, finished its first year of operations in June. As reported in the Boston Globe, its performance fell well short of its projections. When Penn National Gaming won the bid for this casino, the company projected revenue hitting $300 million in the first year.  When they closed the books in June, the casino barely nudged past the halfway mark with sales of only $160 million. What does this mean for Massachusetts? In 2011, Massachusetts legalized casino gambling with […]

Pool Time and Part-Time

It’s official; we’re in a heat wave. Earlier this month, Governor Baker and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced that until August 19, public pools and athletic complexes will have extended operating hours. Going into effect across 20 locations for the second year in a row, this initiative is meant to provide Massachusetts’ children with access to recreational resources during school vacation. As Governor Baker stated, “Extending the hours of operation for these urban facilities will provide a safe location for families to enjoy the season, while promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.” For July, the selected public pools will be open until 8:00 PM on Tuesdays. In August, the pools will be open until 7:30 PM on […]

The New Game of Life: Tuition and Debt

Back in 2005, the Milton Bradley Company launched a new version of the classic The Game of Life.  While similar in most respects to the game most of us grew up with, the updated version reflects today’s financial realities. Namely, you can choose a career and start with a salary or you can choose college and start out $100,000 in debt. College costs have skyrocketed over the last couple decades. Average tuition for a private, four-year institution has increased by more than one quarter in just the last 10 years. What’s more, this is not a symptom that is unique to private colleges. The Pioneer Blog has documented the University of Massachusetts’ tuition increases over the years for both in-state […]