A Better Fall River

Paulo J. Amaral CampaignFor far too long, Fall River has been run by many political insiders who are looking out for their own interests instead of putting the taxpayer first. These political insiders’ answer is to spend more, bond more, and worry about it later by kicking the can down the road. Taxes and fees continue to rise, but quality of life remains very much the same for the average citizen.

As a taxpayer, landlord, and someone who lives and works in Fall River, I find this unacceptable. These are some of the concerns that catapulted me to run for Fall River City Council. I have no political affiliation, nor any ties to the current city administration or political officials. I’m running because I care deeply about where Fall River is headed, and how the hard-working men and women of Fall River are being represented.

Too often, the tax paying citizens are getting squeezed to pay more taxes and fees; as property tax, water and sewer go up, but we continue to see little to no benefit from these tax hikes. I want to be the candidate that helps change this by simply making common sense decisions and demanding that these decisions benefit the taxpayer. I will always be fiscally responsible with your money, as I am with my own money.  The taxpayer perspective will always be my main consideration when making decisions that impact Fall River and your bottom line. This means voting “yes” only when it helps the tax paying citizens of this Fall River. I will never side with other politicians because it’s the expected thing to do; instead, I will side with the homeowners, landlords, business owners, and the tax payers in general of this great city.

As taxes increase year over year, our infrastructure continues to fall apart. Roads are in rough shape with potholes, cracked sidewalks, overgrown grass — often neglected and lacking in maintenance. As a City Councilor, I will advocate for cleaner streets, better roads, areas of greenery and revitalization projects that have a positive impact in Fall River. I strongly believe that you are a product of your environment, and if that environment is neglected, so is the morale, minds, and attitude of its citizens. We must do more to clean and revitalize Fall River in order to change for the better. As a City Councilor, I will demand that your streets are properly cleaned and maintained on a regular basis in order to combat the current negative mentality and morale that has spread throughout the city.

A safe environment is paramount to growth, health, and a successful, more prosperous city. We must ensure that our police department has the resources available to combat crime and make this city a safer place to live and raise families. This means hiring more officers and making sure all vacant positions are filled and erecting police sub-stations in higher crime areas is key to making a safer Fall River a reality.

Our police force must keep up with the growing population that are moving into this city. Having the same number of officers on the streets today that we had 10 years ago; while the current population continues to grow is not a viable solution to combating crime and making Fall River a better, safer place to live and work. It’s extremely important that our police force keeps up with the surge in population by hiring more officers. Not only does hiring more police officers help fight crime, but it saves us from paying millions of dollars to police officers in overtime pay. This, of course, helps save the taxpayer money and assists in bringing department morale up.

Likewise, we must make sure the fire department’s manpower is at acceptable levels in order to keep up with the surge in new housing and population growth throughout the city. Eliminating vacancies in order to keep fire department overtime in control while having enough manpower to keep Fall River safe.

Firefighters are an extremely important asset; one that we will be relying on more and more as housing and population grows in this city. Firefighters need to be fully funded in order to be ready to protect our city from future fires and other emergencies.  We must make sure that police and firefighters are funded and have proper training along with the resources needed to do their jobs. However, negotiation with the unions should be done in a collective agreement that will benefit not only these extremely essential workers but its tax paying citizens as well. The collective bargaining agreements contracts need to be fully vetted in order to stop PTO abuse and stop the taxpayer from being on the hook for future compensation.

We must demand more from our school system; to not only benefit the next generation of tax paying citizens but to attract more middle-class families into this city. Education is the one element that can truly shape a city’s future for the better with considerable results. Ensuring that our school system is preparing students to succeed and raising the educated workforce will allow jobs to come to Fall River, allowing the middle class to grow and families to stay and prosper in Fall River.

Not only should we demand the best in education, but we should diversify the school system with more vocational and charter schools, giving parents choice in how their child ought to be educated. A thriving school system is a significant investment in the future of our city and one that must be taken seriously without any political theater. We need to elect leaders that recognize this and are willing to make this a reality.

Finding and identifying ways to grow local receipts, will help lessen the tax levy.  Generating new revenue is key to offsetting the taxpayer burden, but saving money is as equally as important. Department salaries should be in line with other comparable cities that meet the same financial and economic metrics as Fall River. We need to offer comparable salaries to attract top talent, but we simply cannot increase starting salaries to levels of cities that are more financially and economically stable than Fall River.

We must offer department jobs to local citizens first and only then should we pitch these department jobs to outsiders at a higher pay step if we cannot fill the position from within the city and community. The City Council should demand transparency on filling vacant positions by requesting proof that the administration is actively trying to hire from within the community first. Vacancies must always be vetted and discussed with the council, but most importantly, we must have hiring practices that make sense for Fall River and not necessarily hire based on what the other cities are doing.

We should be looking at consolidating smaller departments and eliminating departments or positions that no longer serve an important purpose. Eliminating some city positions and creating a fee-based schedule that will help trim department staff, saving us on pensions and healthcare costs. This should be done while doing independent outside audits on a regular basis to find and remove inefficiencies and budget abuse.

It’s extremely important that we keep our debt manageable; to prioritize and only borrow money when it’s absolutely vital to the city. We must ensure we meet our debt obligations and pay our bills in time. For example, keeping enough money in our stabilization fund. Doing this allows our credit rating to rise, which in turn offers us better borrowing options with more favorable rates.

Creating local opportunities to generate new money must be a key factor going forward. We must work to identify and put together new revenue-generating ideas that do not exist now. Advertising, additional city services, fee-based programs and industry backed ideas can impact our overall revenue in a positive way that helps our local citizens and puts the city on a much better financial footing.

The key to any successful city is the harmony and balance of industry, commerce, locally-generated receipts, taxpayers along with efficiency, savings, and municipality management. This is why I’m running for City Council. To provide fresh, outside the box ideas along with proven common-sense approach to local government. I want to work for you, the taxpayer, and I will do so without preconceived notions of what the political insiders expect. I will fully fund my campaign without outside contributions because I believe in this city. There’s still time to steer the ship onto the proper course and reap the rewards of doing so, collectively.

Hard work and common sense can and will prevail over politics as usual, but we need the right candidates in office to make this happen.