Moving Newton Forward

Enough is Enough!

We Say

Guest columns and op-eds

Guest columns and op-eds

Joshua Norman: $67M in Annual School Spending Growth is More Than Enough

Moving Newton Forward with Fiscal Responsibility opposes override taxes for $9.2M in additional annual school spending. When the last override passed in 2002, Newton’s General Fund educational expenditures were $112M and rose to $178.8M in 2013. ... Override-Education.pdf

Those who would like to see how Joshua derived his numbers regarding the net cost to Newton taxpayers of non-resident kids as well as the value we provide Boston by educating their kids in our school system can refer to this Excel spreadsheet:

William Hobbib: Three Questions, Three Unnecessary Taxes

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.” That’s how Newton residents should view the three question override vote on Tuesday.

The unanswered questions about tax hikes that could cost the average taxpayer $5,000 to $10,000 over ten years should leave all residents with the conclusion that the taxes are unnecessary.

1) Why are the Newton schools more than twice the cost per student of other elementary schools in the state? ...

Newton voters should reject override because costs are unsustainable

Residents should vote no on each of the override questions. Three no votes will keep Newton affordable by telling elected officials to live within their means.

Newton leaders are asking us for a tax hike on top of our annual rise in local taxes of 2.5 percent. They shamelessly ask when the US economy is stalled and both federal and state taxes are rising.

We fight the overrides so that we can afford to stay in Newton. Three no votes will tell our elected officials that endless spending and tax ­increases are destructive for Newton families.

Burlington recently built a new elementary school that ­resembled Cabot, Angier, and Zervas in terms of size and student enrollment. Yet the net cost for Burlington was ­between 35 and 50 percent less than the net proposed cost ­associated with any one of Newton’s three elementary schools slated for renovation or rebuilding.

If that’s not enough to make a taxpayer skeptical, the city has admitted that the estimated cost per school could rise. Given the skyrocketing costs of Newton North High School, this lack of a price guarantee makes Newton residents ­extremely nervous.

Newton’s capable leadership has ample options for improving infrastructure without raising property taxes. Since 80 percent of all city expenditures go to employee salary and benefits, the city could pay for infrastructure by reforming union contracts. Those contracts currently award city workers far richer health care and pension benefits than private-sector workers enjoy.

Newton could also reduce employee pay raises. If salaries rose 1 percent instead of 2.5 percent, the city would save $11.9 million in annual spending over a three-year period.

The costs are unsustainable.

Meeting Newton’s Needs - Without Raising Taxes

No one disputes that Newton has real needs. But has the administration tried to meet them imaginatively - without automatically reaching yet again for a tax-override? Our group, “Moving Newton Forward – with Fiscal Responsibility,” thinks the city can indeed meet its needs, while living within its means – and thus remaining economically affordable and ethnically diverse. Here's how it looks to us:

Tax hikes proposed by the Mayor change the current 2.5% annual tax increase to a combined 2.5% + 4.3% override rate, for a total increase of 6.8%. That means most Newton residents would see their taxes rise between $500 and $750 annually. As an alternative, MNF has identified three areas where the city could save: ...

Why Should Newton Provide $7.5M/Year Worth of Educational Services to Other Towns for Free?

We are absolutely stunned that the tax-hikers who are pushing these three extravagantly expensive overrides are demanding $11.4M/year in new property taxes beyond the limitations of Proposition 2.5 while refusing to consider having other towns pay their fair share of the costs associated with educating their children in our school system.

We have evaluated the issue of the 538 non-resident schoolchildren attending Newton Public Schools. We have concluded that the Newton School Committee, the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor have engaged in a gross dereliction of their fiduciary duty to Newton taxpayers by refusing to acknowledge that Newton provides a $7.5M/year value to other cities and towns for educating their children in our school system. ...

Vote 'No' on Three Tax Increases, Enough is Enough

Newton taxpayers paid for schools already but the money was spent elsewhere.

Our Group Moving Newton Forward with Fiscal Responsibility is a grassroots group dedicated to ensuring fiscal sanity and responsibility in the city of Newton. We believe that a property tax increase via a Proposition 2½ ballot override rewards fiscal mismanagement, incompetence and lassitude and it is a pathetic excuse for poor management. Mayor Warren’s cheering section has regurgitated the myth that he has “saved ~$200M” in his first term. If that is the case, then why has general fund spending increased from $287.5 million in 2010 (when he took office) to $313 million in 2013 (when he has asked for three extravagantly expensive property tax overrides) and is projected to reach $386 million in 2018? ...

Newton's March 12 Overrides: The Blockbuster Motion Picture Extravaganza

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.

Override bout: Setti Warren vs. Joshua Norman

On this week’s Opinion page, it’s a rhetorical face off between Mayor Setti Warren and anti-override guy Joshua Norman. Who do you think won this round?

Kevin McNamara: Newton taxpayers been duped before

Dear taxpayers of Newton. Let me get this straight. Mayor Warren is requesting us to raise up our property taxes in a March override. I don’t know about your last tax bill, but my recent one has risen. ...

Bill Heck: Newton taxpayers have already paid to improve sidewalks, roads

Moving Newton Forward with Fiscal Responsibility opposes override taxes for street and sidewalk spending. ...

John Madfis: Newton taxes rising faster than inflation

The city government is at it again with another override attempt. The inflation rate in 2012 was 1.7 percent but yet Newton can’t seem to live with only a 2 1/2 percent increase in the tax base. ...

Joshua Norman: Mayor Warren’s Fiscal Baby Steps Are Not Enough to Justify an Override

Newton’s Mayor Setti Warren has been hailed as a fiscal wunderkind and a breath of fresh air relative to the fiscal profligacy of the David Cohen administration. ...


Suzanne Szescila: Vote "no"

Moving Newton Forward Co-Chair Suzanne Szescila shares her view on the proposed override and urges residents to vote "no" on March 12.

Joe Amatucci: Why I'm voting "no"

Moving Newton Forward member Joe Amatucci talks about why he's voting "no" on March 12.


Anatol Zuckerman: Do we need a tax increase?

In 2008, Newtonians defeated a special property tax increase above the lawful 2.5 percent. ...

Maxine and Mark Bridger: Fixing up Zervas May Not be the Right Idea?

There is a problem with Question 1 -- "The Override" -- on the ballot for March 12. We are asked to spend money to "address the condition and capacity of Zervas Elementary School". ...

Guive Mirfendereski: School projects OK, but look again at fire station funding

Like many in this City, I agree that our elementary and middle schools require capital improvements and therefore I will vote in favor of debt exclusion measure that is targeted specifically for such projects...

David Wenstrom: American taxpayers are 'slaves'

Crazed political elites, out to maintain their own cool lifestyles, are now constantly after our nickels/pesos (daily coffee money for some; extra help to my niece's kids and a new roof for me) in wacky redistribution shakedowns...

Mike Vahey: Don't blindly accept the 'only' option

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. ...

Beri Gilfix: Fed up with the Newton police

Many Newton residents are completely fed up with the state of Newton's police department. To wit: the disgusting behavior of the previous police chief, the gutter language that pervades the department, the drunken juvenile behavior of police officers...

Mike Vahey: More school projects to come

I have three issues with way the mayor's override proposal is being presented. First, I keep seeing it referred to as the “$11.4 million override,” as if this was a one time cost. More accurately, this is a permanent increase in property taxes of around 5 percent on top of the annual 2.5 percent that our taxes go up each year. It will cost Newton taxpayers $60 million over the next 5 years alone. Second, it would be wishful thinking to believe that this is the last override proposal we are likely to see in the coming years. ...

Bob Spain: This isn't a typo

Limiting the size, cost and intrusiveness of government seems impossible. Taxed at all levels of government - federal, state, and city - we taxpayers are forever being asked for more...

Richard Slater: A call for limited government

In recent years we have come to painfully realize that the government has demonstrated that it cannot...

Suzanne Szescila: City must control health care costs

The three tax overrides proposed by Mayor Setti Warren are not necessary, but structural reform is. Newton already spends too much for too little. ...

Alan Dechter: Override distributing wealth from havenots to haves

The city of Newton is proposing yet another override to increase the amount of property tax that homeowners and businesses will have to pay to the city coffers. Long story short, this is redistributing the wealth from the havenots to the haves.

Kara Grady Boudreau: No Overrides for Overpaid City Workers

Before you decide which way to vote on the Mayorʼs tax override request on March 12, I urge you to consider how well the Mayor and his team have allocated the tax dollars you have already given them.. ...

Oscar Baron: Newton retiree says override asks too much

The mayor wants an override. Everybody seems to want. The phone rings. It’s a charity. The mail comes. It’s charities. ...

Anne Del Vecchio: Once we were closing schools

Does anyone remember Dr. Vincent Silluzio, the statistician for the city of Newton. In the 1980s, he told us that his research confirmed that we did not need all the schools that we had in Newton and that his research showed that we would never need all the schools that were opened in Newton. ...

Letter: Newton’s payroll is out of control

With regard to the proposed tax override on the Newton ballot for March 12, I think it is imperative for the taxpayers to know how Mayor Warren and his team manage the taxes they have already collected from us. As many of you have read in several recent Globe articles by Dierdre Fernandes (“Number of top earners grows” Feb. 17), Newton’s payroll is simply out of control, at a whopping $191 million for 2012! This figure does NOT even include the exorbitant pension and health care benefits we offer to all our employees. ...

Echo Bridge Arch