By Suzanne Szescila and Joshua Norman, Co-Chairs of Moving Newton Forward
We at Moving Newton Forward caught wind of Meg Ryan's endorsement of the three extravagantly expensive property tax overrides in Newton, MA. Here's our rebuttal.
Here’s the Hollywood treatment of a January meeting between Mayor Setti Warren and citizens discussing the proposed $11.4 million overrides.
Start with the desert scene in Blazing Saddles where a Mexican bandit spits, “Overrides? We don’t need no stinking overrides!”
That indicates the mood among the 40 residents assembled on January 7th in the basement of City Hall to hear the Mayor and his team pitch overrides. They are required, the Mayor said, to defend the quality of life that Newton has come to expect.
In support, city CFO Maureen Lemieux flashed slides of our famous structural deficit and, emblematically, of a Newton fire truck stuck in a sinkhole. Sandra Guryan, Deputy School Superintendent, displayed grim graphs of rising student population.
Joshua Norman, resident, offered his own picture of education data, gleaned from online financial reports . They show that Newton's annual education spending rose 60 percent over the last 11 years to the tune of $66.8 million while educational enrollment only increased by 10.6% during this time period. Guryan didn’t have a slide for that. If she did, an appropriate background might be Star Wars Jabba the Hutt eating a Newton taxpayer, wallet and all.
Education spending doesn’t drive quality, Suzanne Szescila protested. According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Hingham's educational spending per student was 32% less than Newton's educational spending per student in 2011 yet both municipalities saw similar MCAS test scores .
Finally, resident and realtor Terry Sack asked for the city’s Plan B should the overrides fail. Not a pretty picture, the Mayor said, projecting broken roads and crowded schools.If we could put Jabba on a diet, however, we see Bo Derek on the beach in 10. She is our curvaceous city surplus when we rein in spending.