Newton property tax override

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from ddsuburbs. Show ddsuburbs's posts

    Newton property tax override

    Newton residents will vote March 12 on a requested $11.4 million in tax increases for schools, streets, and public safety. Do you support or oppose the proposed Newton property tax override, and why?

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from ddsuburbs. Show ddsuburbs's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    The following was published as a letter to the editor in Globe West on Sunday February 10:

    More than any other reason, our family chose to relocate to Newton because of the quality of its public schools. Stretching our budget to buy a house here was worth it, we felt, because of the education our three girls will enjoy.

    Now as a homeowner, I see an additional benefit from Newton™s commitment to its schools: our new home will likely hold and increase its value. The city'™s public education system made our house attractive to buy, and it will in the future should we ever have to relocate again.

    This has cast next month'™s override vote to pay for long-overdue maintenance and improvements of our schools in a fuller light. A vote to invest in our schools is a vote to invest, quite literally, in ourselves. I hope my new neighbors agree.

    Burton Glass

    Newton

     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from ddsuburbs. Show ddsuburbs's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    In the last four years, the number of Newton employees who took home annual paychecks north of $100,000 climbed from 185 to 199 — an 8 percent increase — and total pay for those high earners has ballooned by $2.7 million.

    Read more here:

    http://www.boston.com/yourtown/newton/2013/02/17/newton-has-more-earning-six-figures-newton-has-more-earning-six-figures/d9ZOOsJiRHRumJTUPGliGL/story.html

    Database here:

    http://www.boston.com/yourtown/newton/news/newton_top_salaries_2012/

     

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from EJJN. Show EJJN's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    In response to ddsuburbs' comment:

    Newton residents will vote March 12 on a requested $11.4 million in tax increases for schools, streets, and public safety. Do you support or oppose the proposed Newton property tax override, and why?




    I will be voting yes on all 3 override votes. I think the needs are real, and the mayor has done a good job of reining in costs. However there is a lot of anger over the past mismanagement of the city's finances that has led us to this place, I get that.

     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from MovingNewtonForward. Show MovingNewtonForward's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    In response to ddsuburbs' comment:

    Newton residents will vote March 12 on a requested $11.4 million in tax increases for schools, streets, and public safety. Do you support or oppose the proposed Newton property tax override, and why?

    Responses Submitted by Joshua G Norman 

    How should Newton residents vote on the override questions and why?

    Newton 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%.They shamelessly ask when the U.S. economy is stalled and both federal and state taxes are rising.

    Newton residents will see a median property tax increase of about $343 if the three overrides pass. If households instead invested that annual amount in a portfolio of stocks and bonds with a rate of return from 4% to 12% each year for 30 years (the length of the two debt exclusion questions), families would have between $19,200 and $82,700. Many of us, saving for college tuition or retirement, cannot afford to lose such a sum. And the City does not need it.

    The last override passed in FY 2002. From that year to 2012, Newton saw its general fund revenue increase by 43.5%. Meanwhile, Newton saw its general fund expenditures rise even higher---to 46% over the same period. Newton has a spending problem. If Newton limited its spending growth to only 2.5% annually during that decade, annual spending by the City of Newton would have been $36.6M lower than was it ended up being in 2012.

    We fight the overrides so that we can afford to stay in Newton. We want our children to be able to afford Newton in the future. Three "No" votes will tell our elected officials, who want these overrides and more, that endless spending and tax increases are destructive for Newton families. 

    During their discussions about the override, several aldermen expressed concern that the costs for these projects were not as specific as they should be and the price could increase. Should voters have confidence in the estimated costs for these projects and the amount of additional taxes being requested under the override? Why or why not?

    We recognize that the estimated costs projected for these Cabot, Angier, and Zervas school projects have some margin of error built into them, but we would like more details. From what we know now, the estimated cost per student of each of the elementary schools is similar to the amount that was spent on Newton North High School. This puzzles us, since the elementary schools lack many of the special facilities that you find in a high school.

    Furthermore, we found that 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 at least 35% less than the net proposed cost associated with any one of the three elementary schools in Newton slated for renovation or rebuilding. If that i™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, this lack of a price guarantee makes Newton residents extremely nervous.

    Mayor Setti Warren has said that the override is needed to address the old, and in some cases, crowded, schools and deteriorating city buildings and infrastructure. What should the city do if voters reject this override of Proposition 2 1/2?

    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 healthcare and pension benefits than private-sector workers enjoy. The costs are unsustainable.

    For example, the city annually supplies what is known as Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB)---primarily healthcare benefits for retirees. From 2004 to 2012, OPEB payments increased from $10.2 to $16.6 million (Cumulative Growth 62%, Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 6.2%). Meanwhile, the City’s pension contribution payments increased from $6.7 million in 2002 to $16.1 million in 2012 (Cumulative Growth 141%, Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 11.6%).

    Newton could also reduce city employee pay raises. If salaries rose 1% instead of 2.5%, for example, the City would save $11.9M in annual spending over the next three-year union contract period (FY2015-2017).

    Education spending is lavish. Although Newton public school enrollment increased only 8% from 2003 to 2012, its spending increased 39% during that time period. What if every student took at least one online course per year? States like Florida use virtual schools to improve test scores and reduce school expenses.

    Savings could also be realized by naming rights deals in the public schools, a re-purposing of Community Preservation Act funds, and negotiations with the native towns and cities of the over 500 non-resident students who attend Newton Public Schools. Annually, they cost us $7.36 million net of state aid

     

    Vote no on all three ballot questions.  We pay plenty in taxes already. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from DDutsy. Show DDutsy's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    no

     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from ccloutier. Show ccloutier's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    Submitted by Marcia Tabenken:

    Response from Building Newton's Future

    1.How should residents vote on the override questions and why?

    Mayor Warren's proposed override package includes three inextricably linked questions that, together, tackle Newton's biggest challenges:  aging infrastructure and school enrollment growth. Three YES votes will enable our city to:

    ·         Modernize and expand Newton's oldest school buildings ranked among the 30 worst in Massachusetts.

    ·         Repair and maintain crumbling roads and sidewalks.

    ·         Provide teachers and staff to address the huge influx of new students.

    ·         Provide critical short- and long-term space with modulars at four elementary schools, as well as renovation/replacement and expansion of the severely overcrowded Zervas Elementary School.

    ·         Improve emergency response time by renovating the outdated Newton Centre Fire Station and Headquarters ”the communications hub for emergency response.

    ·         Reduce traffic-related accidents and burglaries by adding four police officers for traffic and community policing.

    Since Mayor Warren took office, the city has found more than $200 million in cost savings over the next five years by renegotiating employee and utility contracts and identifying efficiencies throughout all city and school departments.  However challenges remain.

    Newton has experienced dramatic enrollment growth with 900+ students since 2005 and 850+ more expected over the next five years. Schools are bursting at the seams, with specialists delivering services in hallways and closets.  Crumbling roads and sidewalks make for unsafe travel. Pedestrian and cycling accidents and burglaries are up.  The outdated Newton Center fire station is slowing down response time.

    Delaying improvements would decrease our property values and cost us millions more down the road. Three yes votes are critical to preserving quality of life in Newton.

     

     

     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from bostonreadercomments. Show bostonreadercomments's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    What I don't get is why the percentage of tax we pay keeps going up. Property values have gone up enormously in Newton in the last decade, even with the big mortgage bubble bursting in 2008.

    We pay a fraction of our property values in taxes. Why are we being asked to pay proportionally more than we used to? I suspect it has to do with supporting pensions, along with deferred maintenance. We cannot support the benfits and salaries we are dishing out anymore. Lifetime pensions and healthcare payments are not given in private sector, why in the public?

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from bumpyt. Show bumpyt's posts

    Re: We Already Spent A Fortune

    Newton taxpayers already engaged in prodigious but profligate spending on a nearly 200 million dollar high school, when one far less expensive -- as other communities have proven --would have been just as sufficient.  To once again ask residents to foot the bill for more school construction -that is most likely more expensive than necessary - is beyond political and civil temerity.  It's taking advantage of our good nature.  The city needs to act more fiscally responsible and without constraints, in the form of a “no” vote to the override, they won't. 

     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from TheTruthHurts123. Show TheTruthHurts123's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    There are 209 employees in the Newton Fire Department. Of these, 190 are fire fighters or managers of fire fighters. Seems a bit much, no?

     
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  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from TheDriverInNoir. Show TheDriverInNoir's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    Let's be sensible about this, City Hall isn't 100% honest with you. They require an over-ride to compensate for the mistakes of Department Heads, Aldermans and the Mayor's Office. Residual problems and on-going issues go back to negligence. The former Mayor ignored the pleas of the residents and went ahead with a massive, very expensive High School when it wasn't even necessary. There were pressing issues at the time such as poor roads, outdated pipes, crumbling and underequipped Fire Houses, decaying schools, etc.

     

    So the Mayor is asking for a hike. Here's what he is not telling you. Contained with the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is a listing of securities, debt instruments, alternative investments and money market funds the City owns. It far exceeds what the Mayor is asking for through an over-ride. Meaning, the City has the money stashed away but they want to milk you for more.

     

    We need to clean house and oust every Alderman who contributed to this mess. Don't buy into the spin and nonsense about "our kids". They use this line every time to cover up their mistakes, incompetence and dishonesty.

     

     

     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from LiberatingStory. Show LiberatingStory's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    I have been a home owning resident of Newton for over a decade, having also rented here back in the early 1980's when I was a graduate student. I will not be voting for this override because I do not have enough confidence in the Mayor or in the leadership of the city to be able to contain costs. I struggle why I should give more financial support to a city whose members of the fire and police department act without any accountability to the people who pay their salaries, and the leadership of the city looks the other way. I work in a non-profit industry that has has sustained a 25% cut in budget over the last seven years that has no significant tax base to call upon to keep business as usual moving forward. The leadership of the city of Newton must do the hard work to lower existing costs before seeking an override.

     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from Jackhammer48. Show Jackhammer48's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    I lived in Newton for a long time before moving (not because of Newton). Residents have to understand the attraction of Newton. First class schools, top notch new high school, steady (if not raising) property values, and proximity to Boston. Of course people will seek to live there, as seen by the increased school enrollment. But a cost comes with this. Let the school system deteriorate and you will see a decline relatively soon. Priorities balanced with cuts with non-essentials, modest tax raises, and user fees seem the way to go. Easier said than done....but that's why we have the elected officials.

     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from tobaccojack. Show tobaccojack's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    Who in their right mind would ever vote to raise their own taxes. How many of those who intend to vote Yes actually ticked the box on their Mass Income Tax return and volunteered to pay the higher State tax rate ??? Government is Government, all they know is how to use it or lose it, aka squander.

     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from tobaccojack. Show tobaccojack's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    In response to bostonreadercomments' comment:

    What I don't get is why the percentage of tax we pay keeps going up. Property values have gone up enormously in Newton in the last decade, even with the big mortgage bubble bursting in 2008.

    We pay a fraction of our property values in taxes. Why are we being asked to pay proportionally more than we used to? I suspect it has to do with supporting pensions, along with deferred maintenance. We cannot support the benfits and salaries we are dishing out anymore. Lifetime pensions and healthcare payments are not given in private sector, why in the public?




    You are absolutley right. Thank you !!

     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from tobaccojack. Show tobaccojack's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    In response to TheTruthHurts123's comment:

    There are 209 employees in the Newton Fire Department. Of these, 190 are fire fighters or managers of fire fighters. Seems a bit much, no?




    A bit much is an understatement.

     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from tobaccojack. Show tobaccojack's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    In response to ccloutier's comment:

    Submitted by Marcia Tabenken:

    Response from Building Newton's Future

    1.How should residents vote on the override questions and why?

    Mayor Warren's proposed override package includes three inextricably linked questions that, together, tackle Newton's biggest challenges:  aging infrastructure and school enrollment growth. Three YES votes will enable our city to:

    ·         Modernize and expand Newton's oldest school buildings ranked among the 30 worst in Massachusetts.

    ·         Repair and maintain crumbling roads and sidewalks.

    ·         Provide teachers and staff to address the huge influx of new students.

    ·         Provide critical short- and long-term space with modulars at four elementary schools, as well as renovation/replacement and expansion of the severely overcrowded Zervas Elementary School.

    ·         Improve emergency response time by renovating the outdated Newton Centre Fire Station and Headquarters ”the communications hub for emergency response.

    ·         Reduce traffic-related accidents and burglaries by adding four police officers for traffic and community policing.

    Since Mayor Warren took office, the city has found more than $200 million in cost savings over the next five years by renegotiating employee and utility contracts and identifying efficiencies throughout all city and school departments.  However challenges remain.

    Newton has experienced dramatic enrollment growth with 900+ students since 2005 and 850+ more expected over the next five years. Schools are bursting at the seams, with specialists delivering services in hallways and closets.  Crumbling roads and sidewalks make for unsafe travel. Pedestrian and cycling accidents and burglaries are up.  The outdated Newton Center fire station is slowing down response time.

    Delaying improvements would decrease our property values and cost us millions more down the road. Three yes votes are critical to preserving quality of life in Newton.

     

     




    WOW! Impressive list. Too bad all your points are misleading and wrong.

     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from tobaccojack. Show tobaccojack's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    In response to MovingNewtonForward's comment:

    In response to ddsuburbs' comment:

    Newton residents will vote March 12 on a requested $11.4 million in tax increases for schools, streets, and public safety. Do you support or oppose the proposed Newton property tax override, and why?

    Responses Submitted by Joshua G Norman 

    How should Newton residents vote on the override questions and why?

    Newton 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%.They shamelessly ask when the U.S. economy is stalled and both federal and state taxes are rising.

    Newton residents will see a median property tax increase of about $343 if the three overrides pass. If households instead invested that annual amount in a portfolio of stocks and bonds with a rate of return from 4% to 12% each year for 30 years (the length of the two debt exclusion questions), families would have between $19,200 and $82,700. Many of us, saving for college tuition or retirement, cannot afford to lose such a sum. And the City does not need it.

    The last override passed in FY 2002. From that year to 2012, Newton saw its general fund revenue increase by 43.5%. Meanwhile, Newton saw its general fund expenditures rise even higher---to 46% over the same period. Newton has a spending problem. If Newton limited its spending growth to only 2.5% annually during that decade, annual spending by the City of Newton would have been $36.6M lower than was it ended up being in 2012.

    We fight the overrides so that we can afford to stay in Newton. We want our children to be able to afford Newton in the future. Three "No" votes will tell our elected officials, who want these overrides and more, that endless spending and tax increases are destructive for Newton families. 

    During their discussions about the override, several aldermen expressed concern that the costs for these projects were not as specific as they should be and the price could increase. Should voters have confidence in the estimated costs for these projects and the amount of additional taxes being requested under the override? Why or why not?

    We recognize that the estimated costs projected for these Cabot, Angier, and Zervas school projects have some margin of error built into them, but we would like more details. From what we know now, the estimated cost per student of each of the elementary schools is similar to the amount that was spent on Newton North High School. This puzzles us, since the elementary schools lack many of the special facilities that you find in a high school.

    Furthermore, we found that 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 at least 35% less than the net proposed cost associated with any one of the three elementary schools in Newton slated for renovation or rebuilding. If that i™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, this lack of a price guarantee makes Newton residents extremely nervous.

    Mayor Setti Warren has said that the override is needed to address the old, and in some cases, crowded, schools and deteriorating city buildings and infrastructure. What should the city do if voters reject this override of Proposition 2 1/2?

    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 healthcare and pension benefits than private-sector workers enjoy. The costs are unsustainable.

    For example, the city annually supplies what is known as Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB)---primarily healthcare benefits for retirees. From 2004 to 2012, OPEB payments increased from $10.2 to $16.6 million (Cumulative Growth 62%, Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 6.2%). Meanwhile, the City’s pension contribution payments increased from $6.7 million in 2002 to $16.1 million in 2012 (Cumulative Growth 141%, Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 11.6%).

    Newton could also reduce city employee pay raises. If salaries rose 1% instead of 2.5%, for example, the City would save $11.9M in annual spending over the next three-year union contract period (FY2015-2017).

    Education spending is lavish. Although Newton public school enrollment increased only 8% from 2003 to 2012, its spending increased 39% during that time period. What if every student took at least one online course per year? States like Florida use virtual schools to improve test scores and reduce school expenses.

    Savings could also be realized by naming rights deals in the public schools, a re-purposing of Community Preservation Act funds, and negotiations with the native towns and cities of the over 500 non-resident students who attend Newton Public Schools. Annually, they cost us $7.1 million net of state aid

     

    Vote no on all three ballot questions.  We pay plenty in taxes already. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!




    Wonderful and accurate thoughts. BRAVO! No is the only way to go.

     
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  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from Geoff Epstein. Show Geoff Epstein's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    The NO campaign is off track on two important issues.

    First they have the cost comparison of the Burlington MA school v. ours completely wrong.

    In fact, Newton tax payers will get the same value for their money as Burlingon tax payers.

    Here's why.

    The Burlington school project which is comparable to our Angier project was completed about a year ago and cost $29 million.

    Angier is projected to cost us about $36 million with a completion year of 2016. If one allows for construction costs to increase by 3% each year, the Burlington school if completed in 2016 would cost $34 million.

    So the costs for Newton school building projects are very similar to those for Burlington, contrary to the Move Newton Forward arguments, which are very misleading.

    Second, in the blog stream above, it is claimed that  non-resident students cost us $7.1 million. That is completely off the mark. The cost of the 400 METCO students was estimated by the Citizens Advisory Group to be about $50,000 in 2008. By my estimate that has increased as our capacity reserves depleted by the incoming student wave, but even so is more like $0.5 million. Certainly, too small to be a signficant factor in our handling of the population surge. 

    So the Move Newton Forward estimate in this case is off by $6.5 million and thus again very misleading.

    The city of Newton is seeing a real upswing in effective planning and execution which is bringing great value back to Newton tax payers. Anyone who wants to see this get better and better should invest in the great new team we have running the city and vote:

    YES x 3 on March 12.

     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from thoughtsfromnewton. Show thoughtsfromnewton's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    Some valid points are noted by proponents and opponents of the override.  Since reading these posts, I have done some reading to inform my own decision-making on this issue.

    I am particularly concerned about the City's lack of transparency and oversight of its own departments. Negligence and poor personnel and financial management seem to be why the City is asking for more, more, and more.  The City needs to learn how to better manage its resources.  

    I have reviewed the CAFRs (as noted above) and the Audit Management Letters available on the Comptroller's website for Newton.  I reviewed CAFRs and Audit Management Letters dating back to 2004.  It is absolutely appalling to see the same recommendations made year after year. What are they doing at City Hall?  They STILL have not managed to even put together a Financial Policies and Procedures Manual.  And, of course they still have problems with water and sewer billing. These unsolved problems cost the City money -- and then the City has the audacity to ask for more money.  Ridiculous.  

    Change my initial UNSUREx3 to a NOx3.

     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from lms163. Show lms163's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    I'm on the fence.  The needs seem to be real, but I'm not sure that the stewardship of our monies has warrunted the additional taxes.   Newton North was a boondoogle (could have built a HS plus a new elementary school for the $$), the average teacher salary in FY11 was $86,560 (Mass Dept of Education website) and the schools receive 57% of the city budget.  Has Newton fallen off the deep end relative to comparable communities?   What is the limit on how much a community should expect to pay for a very good school system?  Why isn't 57% enough?  The Municpal portion was only 27%, which has to cover a broad scope of services.  I think the balance is out of whack.   

     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from thoughtsfromnewton. Show thoughtsfromnewton's posts

    Re: Newton property tax override

    In response to TheDriverInNoir's comment:

    Let's be sensible about this, City Hall isn't 100% honest with you. They require an over-ride to compensate for the mistakes of Department Heads, Aldermans and the Mayor's Office. Residual problems and on-going issues go back to negligence. The former Mayor ignored the pleas of the residents and went ahead with a massive, very expensive High School when it wasn't even necessary. There were pressing issues at the time such as poor roads, outdated pipes, crumbling and underequipped Fire Houses, decaying schools, etc.

     

    So the Mayor is asking for a hike. Here's what he is not telling you. Contained with the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is a listing of securities, debt instruments, alternative investments and money market funds the City owns. It far exceeds what the Mayor is asking for through an over-ride. Meaning, the City has the money stashed away but they want to milk you for more.

     

    We need to clean house and oust every Alderman who contributed to this mess. Don't buy into the spin and nonsense about "our kids". They use this line every time to cover up their mistakes, incompetence and dishonesty.

     

     



    Thanks for pointing out the CAFRs.  The lack of real progress in meeting recommendations outlined in the management letters year after year is concerning.

     

     
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