To the editor:
Is this the right time for an override?
Sequesterization is the new buzzword for trickle-down economic reality on the local level. We rely on federal funding for highways, housing, and everyday community needs. Will second and third-tier citizen needs be met should Congress turn off the fiscal money tap? Governor Patrick has stated the case for expected state cuts in municipal funding. His $1.9 billion tax plan will meet with an additional heavy tax burden here at home. Should this fiscal perfect storm happen, Newton taxpayers would have to fill the void in unexpected extra funding for municipal needs - results of which would be an unusually harsh tax burden tail-spinning Newton property values. Is anybody thinking about this?
Yes, Newton has been heir to prosperity through the many decades - but is Newton prepared for national and state austerity programs?
Are we shortsighted in not recognizing that an active minority might be so strong in advocating for the 30 year debt burden that future generations of Newtonians cannot afford it?
So Newton, we have before us the three questions defining the philosophical financial structure of City government. As a recap, the taxpayer voter has and still is reeling from the tenured Cohen administration's moral obligation bonding structure. The desired objective of NNHS was successfully maneuvered without going to the taxpayer for the financial question of indebtedness. Cohen's Hall did far more harm than the appearance of arrogance, it setup a predisposition for mistrust for successive administrations. This mistrust in city government was the underlying reason for defeat of the 2008 override, not the leaders themselves. Those same override proponent leaders are once again postured to make the case for trust - trust that the executive office has a firm grasp of the financial house, albeit different times with perhaps more demanding circumstance of economy. The moral obligation bonding scheme is held hostage to national debt limit restructuring, the implications of which will negatively impact federal and state funding sources to Newton. The potential that Newton taxpayers will be the lagging recipients of trickle down momentum highlights the inadequacy of a municipal government without financial resources to effectively recover in time.
So, this March 12 special election is not so much about the money involved, more so comes down to the basic confidence, trust, and hope the taxpayer-voter has in the executive office. Anything short of three successful 'yes' questions signal that everything is not just fine here in the Garden City. tbc
--Harry Sanders is a lifelong Newton resident and an unenrolled independent voter
Editor's Note: For more override stories, letters to the editor and blog posts, check out our Newton override page.