EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Latest News

October 5, 2012

City fails to tax $33M in new building

$300K in revenue at stake; Councilor Rivera calls for mayor to fire building commissioner

(Continued)

He said Budget Director Mark Ianello has agreed to hire outside auditors “to review the Building Department’s practices in previous years” and help implement the reforms. He said the auditors also should be asked to audit building permits issued in the years before 2010, which he said will expose “the full extent of Lawrence’s potential losses and determine if any additional remedies are needed. “

Nunes said he also is asking Mayor Lantigua to “take action” against employees responsible for the oversight, but did not name any.

Councilor Rivera said Blanchette should be the first to go.

“The mayor put someone in charge who isn’t qualified and is not doing the job,” Rivera said. “Peter Blanchette should step down or be fired for this.”

Rivera recalled Blanchette’s response to a recent request from the City Council for copies of building inspections and other records.

“He gave us a bunch of handwritten reports – that’s how they do things,” Rivera said about a system that let $300,000 in property taxes fall through the cracks. “Everything is handwritten in that office. There’s no computerized data there. We told Peter he had to fix that. He just got upset about it.”

Lantigua promoted Blanchette, a former inspector, to run the Building Department shortly after his election in 2009. His brother is Patrick Blanchette, a former City Council president who ran against Lantigua in a mayoral primary in 2009, then endorsed Lantigua after losing the primary. Lantigua named Patrick Blanchette economic development director.

Lantigua and Peter Blanchette did not return phone calls yesterday.

The discovery that Peter Blanchette was not informing tax assessors of tens of millions of dollars worth of new development his inspectors were approving was made by Breda Daou, the chairwoman of the city’s Board of Assessment. Daou reported the discovery to Nunes, Ianello and other top finance officials at a meeting attended by Lantigua on Sept. 19. At that point, she had discovered that 302 building permits authorizing $23 million worth of new construction in 2011 had not been reported.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News

AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Photos of the Week