Quincy will have highest debt per capita of any major city in the state
QUINCY — Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch has put so many large capital projects on Quincy’s agenda that the city will amass more than half a billion dollars in debt if the mayor’s plans are approved, mayoral candidate Anne Mahoney said today.
Mahoney, who has been critical of Koch’s borrowing and spending, said a review of currently planned capital projects and Department of Revenue figures shows that if Koch’s plans are approved, Quincy will amass a total debt of $508,814,948.40 – a staggering 553 percent increase over the city’s indebtedness in 2008, when Quincy’s debt was just $77,849,284.
“To put it in simple terms, Tom Koch hasn’t just maxxed out Quincy’s credit card – he’s planning to max out 20 credit cards, and the taxpayers of Quincy are the ones who will be stuck with the bills,” said Mahoney, who holds a degree in Finance.
When divided by Quincy’s population of 91,073 (the 2009 population estimate used by the Department of Revenue), the total indebtedness will come to $5,586.89 per Quincy resident – giving Quincy the highest debt per capita of any major city in the state of Massachusetts, or nearly twice as much debt per capita as Cambridge and nearly three times as much as Springfield.
“Tom Koch thinks he can just borrow, borrow, borrow today and worry about paying t
he bills later,” Mahoney said. “That’s never a good plan, but in this economy it’s a recipe for financial disaster.”
Even more astonishing, she said, is Koch’s assertion that because the $289 million to be borrowed for the downtown development project is expected to be paid back with tax revenues from new businesses, it doesn’t really count as debt.
“That’s an absolutely ludicrous assertion – that’s like a homeowner saying, ‘I have a $500,000 mortgage on my house, but since I have a job to make the payments I don’t really owe that money,’” Mahoney said. “The problem is, one day you might lose your job and you’re still going to have to make payments on that mortgage.”
The same is true of the downtown project, Mahoney said.
“From the beginning, Mayor Koch has grossly understated the very real financial risks involved in the downtown redevelopment,” said Mahoney, noting that Street-Works’ major financial backer recently announced plans to dissolve and sell all of its U.S. assets, which include Quincy’s landmark Granite Trust building. “He’s made all kinds of promises about thousands of jobs and millions in new tax revenue – but if those projections fall short by even a little, Quincy taxpayers are going to be on the hook for all that debt.”
Mahoney added that both Koch and Street-Works have pointed to Blue Back Square in West Hartford as an example of one of Street-Works’ successful projects. The results tell a different story.
“Street-Works made the people of West Hartford the same promises of jobs, tax revenues and lower property taxes – but it hasn’t gone exactly according to plan,” Mahoney said. “To date, the Town of West Hartford’s Blue Back Square fund has yet to generate the positive cash flow needed to cover its debt payments. Residential property taxes in West Hartford have increased, and Blue Back Square is also now up for sale.”
If elected, Mahoney said she would assemble a new financial leadership team based on professional qualifications, not political connections. She also pledged to:
Conduct a top-to-bottom financial review of the city’s budget and planned borrowing to determine whether the city can afford to take on more debt
- Institute budget forecasting to better plan for Quincy’s financial future
- Develop a comprehensive economic development plan for the entire city – not just the downtown – to recruit new businesses and generate more commercial tax revenue
- Institute more stringent oversight of the downtown to protect taxpayers’ investment
- Eliminate unnecessary six-figure patronage jobs
- Stop wasting millions of dollars on unsuccessful lawsuits and legal appeals
- Eliminate unnecessary city positions – including reducing the staff in the mayor’s office
“Quincy needs new leadership that is committed to fiscal responsibility,” Mahoney said. “With my background in finance and 25 years of private-sector business experience, I believe I have the skills to turn our city around financially before it’s too late.”