Money and Finance Greater Gardner MA Local News

Money-Finance Around Greater Gardner MA

  • Mayor’s update 5-27-22 (5/27/2022)

    Gardner MA Michael Nicholson Focuses on Events and Progress – Alerts Citizens to Effects of Inflation on City Costs.

    The Mayor spoke of the upcoming Memorial Day Parade (see our previous article for details), the non-essential 9am-5pm water use ban (see article for details), various events, the new community garden to benefit the CAC (see our article for details), and Candor Realty’s outreach efforts.

    Watch the Mayor’s Update on the City of Gardner Youtube page or on our Mayor’s Update page, CLICK HERE.

    Mayor Nicholson spoke about the Fiscal Year 2023 City Budget and has made all documents available to us. See at left. See how your money will be spent.

    The Gardner City Council will meet in June and must approve the budget before the fiscal year begins on July 1st. Note that the City Council can reduce the budget, but it is not empowered to increase the budget.

    Rising Prices
    Fireworks Gardner MA

    Inflationary Pressures on City Budget are Ongoing

    To outsource the line painting of yellow and white lines has cost less than $18,000 in each of the past 5 years. This year, the minimum bid came in at $32,000. The Mayor said, ““that’s almost double what we normally pay.” The Fiscal Year 2023 Budget has been submitted by the City Council who will review it and act upon it before the new fiscal year starts on July 1, 2022.

    Countdown to Sidewalk Sales and Fireworks Display

    Sidewalk Sales will be held on Saturday June 25, 2022 in Downtown Gardner, and the Fireworks Display at the PACC is that evening at Dusk. It’s all part of Gardner’s birthday celebration. On June 27th, John Philip Sousa Honor Band will be performing FREE at Monument Park.. And next year will be Gardner’s 100th as a City, a celebration committee will be forming soon to start planning the City Centennial.

  • Oil – Gas Prices (5/13/2022)
    oil gas hit roof ma

    Oil and Gas in Gardner MA Hit All Time Highs

    Fuel Oil and Gas prices have hit the roof. A site reportedly showing the cheapest fuel oil prices in Massachusetts shows a price of $5.49 per gallon, which is only 30 cents lower than being charged by local oil companies in Gardner MA. One year ago the price was around $2.50. See current prices. Gas prices are running close to or over $4.50 per gallon throughout the area.  One year ago, the price was around $3 per gallon, Two years ago, the price was around $2 per gallon. Massachusetts is less expensive than California, where prices are approaching $7.00 per gallon. See current local area gas prices on the Gas Buddy Map. .

  • Update 4-29-22 (4/29/2022)
    Mayor's update 4-29-22

    For the Mayor’s weekly update, visit the City of Gardner YouTube page or our Mayor’s update page. CLICK HERE.

    Gardner MA Finances Get a Perfect Score, First time at least in Decades

    This week, Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson delivered his weekly update from the site of the new Community Health Connections medical building on Timpany Boulevard. While the Mayor maintained his composure, his pride in the City’s Finance Team was evident: Here’s why. Gardner received its annual independent outside audit this week as required by Mass. General Laws.

    100 percent

    This is the first known year in the City’s history that not only were there no findings found, but also no suggestions of how things could go better. It’s the best audit result Gardner could possibly have received and objectively shows that the Chair City is well-managed. Mayor Nicholson said, “Big congratulations to our City Auditor John Richard and to the other Department Heads who are part of our Finance Team.   It will  help improve our bond rating as we move forward as well.”

    Gardner PD Investigation Executive Summary released. Nicholson stated, “As things are finalized, we’ll be sure to let the public know.” Gardner Magazine has 2 stories on the matter if you scroll down.

    Other items included in the weekly update were: At airport: The Mayor related the excitement of the plane which noticed it had a bullet on the wing near its gas cap.  Gardner was closest airport.  Airport is actually located within the Town of Templeton and that’s why Templeton PD responded. Paving: Mayor Nicholson went over various paving updates. Pearson Boulevard to be milled on May 3rd.  Pearl Street to be milled on May  9th. Congratulations: Congratulations to Isaac Knight and his family on the ribbon cutting for Knight’s Nutrition in Downtown Gardner.  Congratulations to Gardner’s own Dawn George who works for the Department of Corrections, who was recently inducted into the Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame. Light the Town Purple: Light the Town Purple Event coming to Gardner this coming Monday right before the City Council meeting at Gardner City Hall at 7pm.  This is the kick-off event for the Gardner Relay for Life event to be taking place in June. Keep Gardner Beautiful: Keep Gardner Beautiful Nip Hunt and litter cleanup  event taking place Saturday May 7th beginning at 9am.   Register through Keep Gardner Beautiful Facebook page. 

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  • Finance Committee (4/13/2022)
    Gardner MA Finance Committee 4-13-22
    Mayor Michael Nicholson. who just returned from Washington D.C. is masked at Finance Committee meeting.
    Paving
    The price of asphalt has soared,, requiring more money for previously approved Gardner MA paving projects.

    Who’s at fault? ASPHALT.

    Gardner MA Finance Committee Confronts Asphalt at 4-13-22 Meeting

    The Gardner MA Finance Committee met on Wednesday 4-13-22 and approved various recommendations  to the City Council including $10,000 in additional funding for Downtown trash receptables due to price increases, the $75,000 annual amount to maintain the former dump, and $1.8 million in additional paving costs for various streets where water lines were recently replaced.   Asphalt is now at a high of $83 per ton.  Nationally it has ranged from just over $30 almost 20 years ago to about $70 in 2015, down to about $60 in 2016, and more recently about $65 per ton.   Watch the meeting on YouTube.  CLICK HERE.

  • Inflation Impact (4/10/2022)
    Rising Prices

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    The Gardner City Council will meet again on Tuesday April 19, 2022. For our City Council page and to view the most recent meetings, CLICK HERE.

    Rising Prices Impact Gardner MA Current and Upcoming Budget

    Where possible, Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson has attempted to take advantage of lower contracted prices on certain items such as road materials.   However, the Chair City is not immune to inflation, and the current budget is impacted by rising prices.   And the budget for the next fiscal year which the Mayor reportedly will submit to the City Council next month has the same challenges.  In an interview Saturday 4-9-22 on WGAW AM 1340 and 98.1 FM, City Council President Elizabeth Kazinskas specified a few specific areas of immediate concern which will be discussed at the next meeting on Tuesday, April 19, 2022: 

    Fat Budget

    Kazinskas stated, ““The City Council voted at our February 22nd meeting to install new trash receptacles downtown….The mayor has an order on the agenda to revisit that,….appropriate 10 thousand dollars…due to the increase in prices….The Department of Corrections has increased the price of the trash receptacles.”   “Another item…water infrastructure throughout the city, replacing old pipes and valves…due to rising price of asphalt…original loan is no longer sufficient to cover costs. So there is a request for an additional $1.8 million to be borrowed from the water enterprise account in order to complete the project…still within the city’s debt limit…another effect of what’s going on throughout the world on our cities..”

    Kazinskas praised the current Mayor, the previous mayor, and the Economic Development Department for their abilities to obtain various grants to help cover city costs. “They helped get money, whether it’s state or federal.” Kazinskas stated that it was important to note that the City Council can’t add to the City budget, it can only cut from the budget. “Any amendments that we make would be a cut to the budget, not an addition to the budget… By the time we vote on the budget, we’ve had the budget in front of us for over a month.”  On a lighter note, the Council President stated she was happy to be celebrating the 98th birthday next Saturday of her grandmother who is “100 percent Polish.”

    To hear the Hotline Radio program from Saturday  4-9-22, please visit the WGAW Hotline Radio page: CLICK HERE   The program featuring local interviews airs every Saturday from 12:10pm to 2:00pm on WGAW AM 1340, 98.1 FM, and on a live stream.

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  • Oil and Gas (3/15/2022)

    Greater Gardner MA Oil and Gas Prices still up there

    Home Heating Oil and Gas prices are still up there.     Gas price map: CLICK  HERE.    Fuel Oil prices: CLICK HERE.

  • Gas Prices (3/11/2022)

    Greater Gardner MA & U.S. Gas Prices over 3 years.

    36 month average retail price chart
    Gas Prices 3/11/2019 to 3/11/2022
  • Oil Prices (3/8/2022)
    Screenshot from local oil company websites 3-8-22

    Local Oil Prices Hit the Roof Topping $5 per gallon!

    Wow! We just got these screenshots from local oil company websites in the Greater Gardner area. Lowest price just over 5 bucks per gallon. UPDATE 3/12/22 – Local home heating oil prices have dropped a bit to around $4.50 per gallon.

  • Gas Price Tool (3/8/2022)
    Gas Prices 3-8-22

    Looking for cheap gas in Greater Gardner MA?

    Try this tool from Gas Buddy to find some of the lowest prices in the area.  CLICK HERE

  • City Council Fees 2-22-22 (2/23/2022)
    Balance of City Fees

    Watch the February 22, 2022 Gardner MA City Council meeting on YouTube or visit our Gardner MA City Council page. CLICK HERE.

    The subject of fee increases will come up again at a meeting of the whole in March with input for the Gardner MA City Council.

    Will the Gardner MA City Council Increase Fees and shut off the valves of Growth, Progress, and Community Improvement or would it be a much- needed course correction?

    The Gardner MA City Council is not moving hastily on the matter. A meeting of the committee as a whole will gather additional input in March regarding Fire Department, Building Department, and other fee schedules before increasing them. We have a section going in to more detail on the pros and cons of fee increases. CLICK HERE.

    More NewsApproved Items of Interest

    The City Council rescinded its order to spend free cash for a new police department vehicle as the funds can come instead from the American Rescue Plan funds. Downtown Gardner trash containers will be replaced at a cost of $15,000. Money for the athletic fields at the high school was not immediately approved as councilors wanted more information on the project. The Witches Wardrobe was granted a second-hand goods license and now also has the first fortune teller license in the Chair City. The Ordinance increasing fines dramatically for not clearing snow in Downtown was sent to a second printing, making it a done deal.

    Much Disagreement over S. Graves Lawsuit

    Councilor James Boone explained that the scope of the S. Graves lawsuit against the City of Gardner concerns desired information about heating unit coils allegedly damaged by questionable city water. Boone asked why zero information is being released and why doesn’t anybody question why there are no answers. Boone motioned to ask the City Solicitor why it’s a conflict of interest to represent the City – it was defeated 4-6. The overall motion to transfer $5000 to the S Graves lawsuit account passed 6-4. Issues with Gardner water causing premature failure of heating coils continues to this day as evidenced by disgruntled residents who comment in news on Social Media.

    Other Matters Before the Gardner City Council

    Eric Commodore sworn in
    School Committee & City Council

    During a brief joint convention of the City Council and School Committee, Eric Commodore was appointed to a 4 year term on the Monty Tech School Committee.

    It was disputed whether the other appointment on the meeting agenda, that of an unexpired 2 term was actually a valid vacancy. The recording of the meeting was corrupted at this point so we don’t have details on how that vote turned out. Play the video, CLICK HERE

    More News on the Fees

    Business growth columns

    Growth Formula or Fees Too Low?

    Some would argue that when things are going your way, you don’t mess with the formula.  For years, the City of Gardner’s winning recipe kept various Fire Department and Building Department fees below the actual cost of the work involved, sometimes far below. Packet from last meeting with examples of other towns

     In fact, when the matter was brought before the City Council, examples of fees charged by other area communities demonstrably proved that Gardner was charging far lower fees than it could.   Documents proved that the fees simply were not covering the cost of the work.  Gardner was subsidizing almost every building built and every home improvement made.  The Chair City had its highest year ever of building permits recently with over one thousand in the recent year.

    Will business enthusiasm change

    Unprecedented growth with the Subsidy

    Whether it was a major contributing cause or not, the fact is the City of Gardner did have unprecedented growth during the period of this fee subsidy.  The Chair City had highest total number of building permits of any year, ever.  

    …Many announcements of businesses choosing Gardner.   …Government leaders choosing Gardner in approving grants.   …The City of Gardner had begun a snowball of success with the valves of Growth, Progress, and Community Improvement seemingly wide open with a very good future ahead of the Chair City.  

    House and Money

    Argument for Increasing fees

    The argument for increasing fees was this:  The business desiring the service should pay for it, not the citizens of the city. And the cost of services provided by the Fire and Building Departments was not being covered by the fees charged.

    Department budgets had to be increased to cover the costs.  And similarly, the homeowner desiring the renovation should pay fully for the cost involved in inspections etc., which could be garnered through increased fees.   Lastly, Gardner was so far below what other area communities are currently charging that  the City’s success shouldn’t be affected negatively if it simply brought fees up to par.

    Will homeowners improve less?

    Argument for Leaving Fees alone and continuing subsidy

    The argument against increasing fees included this: The cost of subsidizing fees impacting business was far outweighed by the huge benefit to the City of Gardner MA from getting more business in a community which had been losing it before.  

    And the argument against increasing fees for homeowners is that when a property is improved, its assessment goes up.  Those who choose not to improve or who can’t afford to improve get the benefit when their taxes are lowered, such as when the tax rate dropped substantially this year.  Arguably, citizens who didn’t improve had a net financial benefit by the City incentifying others to improve with the lower fees.  Arguably, the lower fees charged business was more attractive policy than some believed.

    The Future will be the Judge

    Time will tell whether higher fees impact negatively the amount of business or industry attracted to Gardner.   History will be the judge of whether increasing fees to homeowners negatively affects the number of those who choose to improve.  The future will be the judge of whether subsidizing fees for the Building and Fire Departments was pure genius that demonstrably helped Gardner, or whether the City was just flushing money down the drain.

  • Real Estate (1/26/2022)
    Gardner MA Real Estate 1-26-22

    It’s a seller’s REAL ESTATE market in the Greater Gardner area.

    Real Estate in Gardner MA

    On January 26, 2022, there are less than 20 real estate listings for Gardner MA. For the 01440 Zillow page, CLICK HERE. On the Worcester County Craigslist Real Estate page, there were less than 500 listings. CLICK HERE. For those looking to rent, there were several hundred listings on Craigslist. CLICK HERE.

    In fact, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports that in December 2021, there were less homes for sale than in any period in the last 17 years. See report, CLICK HERE. —- Real Estate Search, CLICK HERE.

  • Supply Chain (1/20/2022)
    Supply Chain Producers Sellers Transporters

    Supply Chain Issues Not Affecting Consumer to Consumer Used Junk in Greater Gardner MA

    We’ve all heard about the Supply Chain issues affecting New car and electronics prices.  But what about junk?  Is regularly priced junk now high priced junk?  A cursory look on Craigslist says no.  For example, on the Worcester County site,  if you’re willing to buy a box full you can get 3 music cds or 3 VHS tapes for about a dollar,  cassette tapes for about a quarter, DVD’s for about 50 cents (more or less).

    In appliances, you could get an almost new washer and dryer pair for 500 bucks, a like new fridge for under 300 bucks, or even a Roomba robot vacuum for 100 dollars.  If you want to save money on baby and kids stuff, there were about 500 listings.   Even the FREE stuff hasn’t gone up in price due to inflation.  There are about 300 listings for FREE things.  We even saw a beautiful antique-style couch being sold for Zero, as in FREE.   So if it doesn’t have to be perfect or BRAND NEW, and sometimes if you don’t mind paying NOTHING at all,  the Supply Chain of Used Junk (Stuff) is very healthy and budget friendly.

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  • Moving Here (1/18/2022)
    Moving to the Area Gardner MA

    Moving to the Greater Gardner MA area

    If you’re relocating to the Greater Gardner MA area, you’ll likely want to know about the availability of various needs in your community. Our Moving to the Area Guide covers utilities, housing and home, transportation and taxes, municipal services, financial services, education, vices, medical, outdoor activity and exercise, shopping, entertainment and social, and attractions.

    Moving to Area Guide page, CLICK HERE

  • Budget Dog (1/1/2022)

    Greater Gardner MA Budget Dog

    Gardner Magazine’s Budget Dog has some great tips for saving money in 2022. Save on cable, phone, electric, cars, internet, water, and so much more. For the complete article, CLICK HERE

  • Trash Talk (11/27/2021)
    Greater Gardner MA Winchendon Athol Orange Trash Recycling information

    Greater Gardner MA Trash Talk

    Solutions for trash and recycling after making all those Small Business and Holiday purchases. What do you do with the old TV, mattress, furniture, or tires? Complete information, CLICK HERE

  • Streaming Deals (11/24/2021)

    Black Friday Streaming Deals 2021

    After you do all your local shopping, you might want to sit down, relax, and watch tv. Our readers can get a year of hulu for 99 cents per month or any of a number of other deals for cheap money. CLICK HERE.

  • Unemployment Rate (7/12/2021)

    Return to the Gardner MA Work Force

    Gardner residents continue to return to the work force. While the Gardner – Fitchburg – Leominster unemployment rate is hovering at 7% and is 3.2% higher than the March 30, 2020 rate of 3.8%, it is much lower than the pandemic high of 17.6% reported for April 2020.

    The Massachusetts Unemployment rate before the pandemic was 2.7%, but that quickly rose to 16.4% one month later as reported for April 2020. The current Massachusetts unemployment rate is still higher than before the pandemic and is hovering around 6%. Each of the charts can be viewed in large size by clicking the image.