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Choosing sides in Needham

Posted by Ralph Ranalli March 26, 2007 05:31 PM

NEEDHAM

With a showdown on Needham’s two overrides looming, the battle lines are being drawn.

The town's taxpayers will be asked for for a $21 million debt exclusion override to fund the renovation of the High Rock School and the $1.1 million operating override to keep nine teachers. An operating override permanently raises the city's property taxes, while a debt exclusion override only lasts until the borrowing for a particular project is paid off.

The “yes” camp is moving ahead full throttle with events, sophisticated websites, and blogs. Two groups, Citizens for Needham Schools and Yes for Needham are trying to drum up support for the overrides, saying they are necessary to ensure educational quality.

Meanwhile, a group of seven nay-sayers are hoping to build a momentum for the “no” vote before the April 10 election. Member Robert Larsen said the group consists of mostly senior citizens who tend not to be web-savvy. The group doesn’t have a name, though most participants have been members of the Needham Taxpayers Association at one time, Larsen said.

Larsen said the group may lack the marketing abilities of their younger opponents, but was largely for defeating last year’s $1.48 million school operating override, thanks to a half-page ad last spring in the local newspaper. The ad drained their funds for this year, he said, so the group will rely on free editorials to the local newspapers to get out their message.

-– Lauren K. Meade

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