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Newton Residents Form Pro-Override Group

Mayor Setti Warren proposed an $11.4 million override package on Monday night that looks to rebuild schools, fix roads and improve public safety.

Less than a week after , a group of Newton residents have formed a pro-override group to help build support for the tax levy measure. 

Building Newton's Future is a ballot question committee that is co-chaired by former Angier Elementary PTO Co-President Emily Prenner and Newton Schools Foundation Board of Directors member Marcia Tabenken.

“Since I took office, we’ve brought our operating expenses under control,” Warren said in a press release issued Friday. “Now it’s time to fix our long-neglected roads and buildings and to create new space for our growing student population. We need to hire teachers to put in those classrooms to maintain effective class sizes. We need to ensure the safety of neighborhoods, cyclists and pedestrians.”

A special election for the override is scheduled for March 12, 2013, pending approval from the Board of Aldermen.

Warren's override request consists of three questions that would increase residents' property taxes to help pay for aging buildings, roads and public safety.

The first question asks for an $8.4 million operational override that would cover a number of different capital needs including funding for projects in the schools, public works, police and fire departments.

The second question would ask for approval of a debt exclusion override to cover the cost of rebuilding the 90-year-old Angier Elementary. The third question would ask for a similar debt exclusion override to cover the cost of renovating or rebuilding the 80-year-old Cabot Elementary.

“We see the Mayor’s override package as one whole with three interrelated parts,” Tabenken said in the press release issued by Building Newton's Future. “All three parts are essential to moving our city forward—to building Newton’s future.”

According to the press release, the $11.4 million override breaks down as follows:

  • $1.3 million for Angier debt service
  • $1.7 million for Cabot debt service
  • $1.7 million for Zervas renovations debt service
  • $0.7 million for debt service to cover a rebuilt Fire Station #3
  • $4.5 million for school operating for enrollment growth
  • $1 million for streets and sidewalks
  • $0.5 million for police officers, new cruisers, equipment and technology

In addition to Prenner and Tabenken, Newton residents Dan Fahey and Rob Gifford are honorary co-chairs of the committee. 

Fahey, who was opposed to the city's last override request, said he can put his support behind this override because he believes the city has spent its money wisely and balanced its books properly.

“As much as I was opposed to the previous override request because Newton's financial house was not in order, Mayor Warren has really addressed that issue, and it's now time to tackle some of the long-range facility and public safety issues that in the past were underfunded or neglected,” Fahey said in the press release. 

Mayor Setti Warren and other city officials will hold the first in a series of town hall meetings this Sunday to discuss the override proposal. The meeting will be held at Cabot Elementary at 12:30 p.m.

The full press release from Building Newton's Future is included below: 

Building Newton’s Future: 3 Questions, 1 City

New Ballot Question Committee Supports Override

NEWTON, Mass. (October 19, 2012) - A group of concerned Newton citizens has formed Building Newton’s Future, a ballot question committee calling on city officials and voters to pass an override that would help improve the poor conditions of Newton’s aging school buildings, address rapid growth in student enrollment, and improve the safety of Newton’s residents.

Building Newton’s Future is a grassroots organization co-chaired by Newton residents Emily Prenner and Marcia Tabenken, and honorary co-chairs Dan Fahey and Rob Gifford.   It was formed in response to Mayor Setti Warren’s Oct. 15 proposal to the Board of Aldermen to raise $11.4 million in additional tax revenue to address critical city needs.  Once the aldermen approve the override request, Newton voters will be able to weigh in on the override on March 12, 2013.

 “Since I took office, we’ve brought our operating expenses under control,” said Warren.  “Now it’s time to fix our long-neglected roads and buildings and to create new space for our growing student population. We need to hire teachers to put in those classrooms to maintain effective class sizes. We need to ensure the safety of neighborhoods, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Warren’s proposal includes three essential and interconnected components: two debt exclusions for the rebuilding and rehabilitation of the Angier and Cabot elementary schools, and an operating override that bundles additional teachers and resources to meet rising enrollment, funds for roads and sidewalk repair, four additional police officers to manage the increased traffic crowding our streets, and debt service payments for improvements to the Zervas school and renovation of Fire Station 3 in Newton Centre and Fire Department headquarters.

“We see the Mayor’s override package as one whole with three interrelated parts,” said Marcia Tabenken, co-chair of Building Newton’s Future. “All three parts are essential to moving our city forward—to building Newton’s future.”

“As a parent of school-aged children, I’m pleased that Mayor Warren’s override would improve the condition and capacity of our schools while also funding the teachers and tools necessary to maintain the quality education Newton has come to expect,” said Building Newton’s Future Co-chair Emily Prenner.

Here’s how the $11.4 million breaks down:

$1.3 million—Angier debt service

$1.7 million—Cabot debt service

$1.7 million—debt service for Zervas

$0.7 million debt service for Fire Department

$4.5 million—school operating for enrollment growth

$1 million—streets and sidewalks

$0.5 million—police for traffic mitigation

“As much as I was opposed to the previous override request because Newton's financial house was not in order, Mayor Warren has really addressed that issue, and it's now time to tackle some of the long-range facility and public safety issues that in the past were underfunded or neglected,” said Honorary Co-Chair Dan Fahey.

“Together these overrides will set Newton on track to tackle the multitude of capital and operating needs that lay ahead for our growing city,” said Honorary Co-Chair Rob Gifford.

In the coming weeks and months, the leaders of Building Newton’s Future will reach out to individuals and groups throughout the community.  If you’re interested in volunteering to help ensure that the override passes, please contact Building Newton’s Future at info@buildingnewtonsfuture.org.   For more information about Building Newton’s Future, contact us at info@buildingnewtonsfuture.org or 617-564-3760.  Coming soon: Building Newton’s Future website with updates, information and resources at www.BuildingNewtonsFuture.org.

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