CANDIDATE QUESTIONS: Cheryl Fischer, candidate for Precinct 6 Town Meeting Member

The Manomet Current has posted a list of questions for candidates in all contested offices. You can find the questions here.

Name: Cheryl K. Fischer (Cheryl King Fischer)

Running for: Town Meeting Representative from Precinct #6

Street: Montrose Avenue

Served on Town Boards and Committees: Volunteer and one year on Board of the Southeastern Massachusetts Pine Barrens Alliance, Member and Secretary of Indivisible Plymouth. Prior to moving to Manomet, I served on the Montpelier, Vermont, City Council and Co-chaired the Montpelier Energy Committee, Chair of the Montpelier Middle School Parent Teacher Association and other local civic groups.

Running for office: I would like to be one of Precinct #6 voices at Town Meeting because, in these turbulent times, our democracy and government needs all of us to be more informed and involved in governing ourselves from the local to the federal level.

Do you think Selectmen should have put a question on the ballot regarding retail marijuana sales in Plymouth?

No, I stand with the April 11th Select Board decision and the points that led to that vote. There is much to learn as the state implements its statewide recreational marijuana management strategy. Information that will come forward from that process, from local economic impacts to siting options etc., will give voters a more complete picture of where and under what rules/conditions marijuana shops could be located in Plymouth. If at that time, there is public concern, a townwide referendum can then be brought to determine if we stay in or opt out.

How do you envision the development of the 1, 500 acre parcel of land surrounding the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station?

I see those 1500 acres as a key part of Plymouth’s recreation and forest future, a true gem few today can really imagine. Yet, I fully acknowledge and honor that as a community we must examine all options before choosing the future of that property. I believe we will find great guidance in “Plymouth’s Vision Statement” adopted in 2009, and I look forward to a robust, and widespread community dialogue, part of which will come from the RKG/Plymouth Regional Economic Development Foundation update to the town’s 2001 economic development plan.

As a trained community and natural resource planner, I know process matters, and finding how this land will best serve today’s and future Plymouth residents and visitors alike needs to go through a very open and transparent planning evaluation.

I was dismayed to see the changes in the PILOT agreement between Entergy and the Town of Plymouth. Even more than the restrictive covenant that was removed, and a ROF – Right of First Refusal – substituted in its place, I wish Plymouth had negotiated then a purchase and sales agreement with Entergy. Pilgrim has brought jobs and taxes. It is also leaving us with a multi-century liability. Plymouth deserves to purchase the land at a fair price, secure it, and through a community-wide process decide what will be in the best interest of economic development, conservation, recreation and the other amenities the land has to offer.

Do you believe property taxes are too high in Plymouth? If so, what steps do you think should be taken to control them?

 

Based on the services taxpayers receive from the town and other factors, I would say a qualified “no” at this time, unless one is a senior on fixed income or a low income wage earner.

However, the question is not really whether today’s property taxes are too high now, but what are they going to be in 3-5 years when Pilgrim Station is shuttered and more development comes to Plymouth?

What steps should we be taking to control them? As we move to the Pilgrim shut down date, we need to look at and evaluate three things carefully: 1) what services Plymouth residents want, need and can’t live without; 2) what new sources of revenue can be developed; and 3) what are the actual costs of future development and conservation decisions – that is for every dollar in tax revenue they bring, what do these new sources actually cost Plymouth.

I have found it helpful to compare Plymouth’s property tax numbers to other Massachusetts cities and towns. Check out this Boston Business Journal’s 2015 Massachusetts Property Tax Rate information article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/bbj_research_alert/2015/01/massachusetts-property-tax-rates-in-2015-by-town.html.

Plymouth fell just above the median and ranked 173 out of 336 towns reporting their property tax burden.

Plymouth’s average family tax bill = $4,782 [State average = $4,300]

Residential tax rate = $15.54 [State average = $15.69]

Commercial/Industrial tax rate = $15.54 [State average = $17.30/$1000 value]

What is this?