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Finance panel to weigh Newton North tax increase

Posted by Sarah Thomas  March 22, 2011 05:22 PM

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Newton aldermen voted to have the Finance Committee consider a motion that would put a tax increase before city voters to help pay off the remaining debt for Newton North High School.

The proposal for a debt exclusion of Proposition 2 1/2 was originally made in 2008 by Alderwoman Amy Sangiolo, chairwoman of the programs and services committee. She said she was resurrecting the idea to cope with the city's budget problems.

"It's timely to talk about another potential revenue source during budget time," Sangiolo said in a recent interview. "The mayor's staff has identified debt servicing as a huge budget item."

The finance committee had the item on its docket for two years before voting no action was necessary earlier this month. However, as finance committee chairman Lenny Gentile explained, the motion was never actually taken up in committee.

"When I took over as chair, the finance committee had a list of pending items that had been sitting on the agenda for years," Gentile said. "We voted no action necessary with the understanding that, if the rest of the aldermen wanted us to, we would take it back up."

Gentile said that the merits of the measure would be debated at the committee's next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday. However, he said, a debt exclusion override would mean abandoning the city's long-established financing plan for the nearly $200 million school.

In a previous interview, Mayor Setti Warren said he opposed the debt exclusion override, noting that the city was in the process of developing a capital improvement plan that would consider the economic needs of all the city's capital projects.

Sarah Thomas can be reached at sarah.m.thomas@gmail.com.

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