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The face-off begins

Posted By Denebola On April 16, 2008 @ 8:01 pm In News | Comments Disabled

By Jeremiah Davis

Facing rising costs, the City of Newton has proposed an additional $12 million in taxes via an override.
Two organizations, the pro-override Move Newton Forward (MNF), and Newton For Fiscal Responsibility (NFFR), which is against it, are currently the main players in the outcome of this vital vote.
Earlier this year, the city proposed an override bill that would raise Newton’s taxes by more than the 2.5 percent limit per year set by Proposition 2 1/2, a law passed by Newton in the 1980s.
This proposition, nicknamed “Prop 2 1/2, states that cities cannot raise taxes by more than 2.5 percent a year plus economic growth without calling for a referendum “override.
Co-chair of Move Newton Forward Richard Gifford, believes that the override is a necessity to the wellbeing of the city.
“The unfortunate truth is that Newton like many cities and towns in Massachusetts faces a structural deficit, with costs rising faster than revenues, Gifford said. “Budget busters like health insurance, pension costs, wages and energy are going up faster than the revenue the City needs to pay for them,
According to Gifford, passing the $12 million proposal is therefore vital for the future of the city.
“If the override fails, the City and schools will need to cut programs and services, Gifford said.
The organization is confident that Mayor David Cohen and aldermen will use the money wisely to maintain and improve the city.
Not everyone, however, supports the mayor. Co-head of NFFR Jeff Seideman feels that the mayor and Newton aldermen are inefficiently leading the City.
“We don’t trust the Mayor to spend more money wisely, [Newton North's] soaring costs are an indication things are out of control in City Hall, Seideman said.
Disagreeing with Move Newton Forward, NFFR thinks that there is sufficient money in the city treasury to prevent any layoffs of teachers, policemen, or other city workers.
According to Seideman, members of Move Newton Forward are just using “scare tactics in order to bring the public to their side.
In addition, NFFR fears an even bigger outcome if the override is passed.
“We believe this is the first of three overrides the Mayor will request, Seideman said.
The cost of all three put together would amount to a $6,000 increase in tax payments by the average Newton household over the next five years according to Seideman.
“If we don’t defeat the override this year, it will just be worse next year. The time to act is now, he said.
As the May 20 vote on the override approaches, each side raises awareness of their opinions and attempts to gain the majority of the vote.
“We believe that if the public has access to accurate information they will overwhelmingly defeat the override, Seideman said.
Move Newton Forward does not agree. “This is going to be a very close election. We are going to have to work hard to educate and persuade the electorate, Gifford said.

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/04/16/the-face-off-begins/

URLs in this post:

[1] News Analysis: Will it pass?: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/04/16/news-analysis-will-it-pass/

[2] Newton to vote on $12 mil override: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/03/19/newton-to-vote-on-12-mil-override/

[3] Mayor pushes for Tax Override: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/11/21/mayor-pushes-for-tax-override/

[4] City finds $11 mil as South skimps: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/09/24/city-finds-11-mil-as-south-skimps/

[5] Rep. Ruth Balser on education: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/10/29/rep-ruth-balser-on-education/

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