Don't blindly accept the 'only' option

Why we are opposed to Mayor Warren's three extravagantly expensive property tax overrides.

The debate over the mayor's override proposal seems to have devolved into the mayor and his supporters saying that anyone who opposes the proposal is somehow against students, police, teachers, and better schools and roads. That is oversimplifing the issue and misses the point. Most people in Newton would agree that we all want things to be better, but there are differences of opinion over what we collective can afford and how to pay for them.

The issue boils down to whether there are better ways to address these needs other than significantly increasing our property taxes and piling more debt onto the Newton government ledger as Mayor Warren wants to do. Under his plan, our property taxes would double within ten years and increase the city's debt load by an estimated $90 million to build two new schools. This override proposal does nothing more than plug the city's structural deficit and allow him to "kick the can" down the road to future Newton generations.

Rather than a broad property tax increase and more debt, we believe there is a solution to addressing the city's staffing and infrastructure needs by fixing our current deficit issues and more targeted revenue measures. We think this solution and views others may have should be part of the debate rather than labeling everyone who opposes the current override as someone who either doesn't care about Newton's future or who is absolutely opposed to new taxes. Unfortunately, the mayor has not allowed that debate to take place as he is already pushing his pre-packaged solution in a rushed election. As informed citizens, we shouldn't just blindly accept the only option Mayor Warren has given us. That is why we at Moving Newton Forward urge you to vote "no."

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve Siegel March 01, 2013 at 04:43 AM
Dear MNF, I’m not sure whether you missed this text from my blog post of 3:35 p.m. on February 23rd. You have provided considerable numerical information online and in your TAB op-ed yesterday, but your numbers on tax rate growth and school building cost are different than mine. Would you please share how you came up with your figures? "This plan will not double our property taxes in ten years. Rather, with a one-time increase of the taxable base of 5% and then a 2.5% annual increase, our taxes will grow by roughly 1/3 over the next decade. Also, the Angier and Cabot projects are expected to cost, all in, $82 million, and 30% is expected to be picked up by the state leaving Newton’s share at $57 million." I can appreciate that we may have a different perspective regarding whether the override questions and amounts are reasonable, but at least I hope that we are working with the same numbers. Thank you, Steve Siegel
Moving Newton Forward March 01, 2013 at 01:00 PM
Steve, we are concerned that this is just the first of many overrides in the pipeline. Our leadership has had the opportunity to meet with the leadership of the pro-override campaign and our concerns have been confirmed. As for the costs associated with the schools, it appears that the two overrides concerning the schools will result in a $90M commitment for principal and interest over this 30 year period.
Moving Newton Forward March 01, 2013 at 01:09 PM
We are concerned that this override will be the first of many and that our taxes will be doubled in the next 10 years to pay for infrastructure programs that even the pro-override side admits were neglected by a Democrat-dominated Board of Alderman, a Democrat-dominated School Committee and a Democrat Mayor. Please don't word-smith and say "municipal elections are officially non-partisan". Last we checked, the current mayor and the previous two mayors were registered Democrats and ran for higher office as members of the Democrat Party. Last we checked, the 2011 Ward 4 School Committee race was a choice between two Democrats who basically agreed on almost everything and who have both come together in favor of the three overrides.
Really? March 01, 2013 at 06:42 PM
What? In your post, you claimed that if these overrides pass "our property taxes would double within ten years." When Steve asked you to justify that assertion with actual figures, you change course and say that our taxes will double because you *believe* there will be "many" overrides in the next 10 years. That's an opinion, not a fact. And please stop trying to derail the discussion with appeals to partisanship. The neglect of infrastructure (and the selling off of infrastructure that we now could desperately use) began under our longest-serving mayor, who happened to be a Republican - and who also proposed an override. Party affiliation has nothing to do with it.
Janet Sterman March 01, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Not following the BNF blog posts - but I do see that you do use the same answers in several different listserv responses throughout Newton. Is this working for you? Boo-YA!


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