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City finds $11 mil as South skimps

Posted By Denebola On September 24, 2008 @ 11:36 am In News | Comments Disabled

By Nathan Yeo

The city of Newton tried and failed to pass a $12 million tax override this past May to deal with the city’s budget problems. It turns out that Newton may not be in quite as much financial trouble as people believe: city administrators recently announced that Newton has access to $11 million in “free money.

Newton’s Chief Administrative Officer Sanford Pooler and Mayor David Cohen stressed that the recently discovered $11 million, which comes from a wide variety of sources, can only be used for capital projects and one-time expenses. According to city administrators, the $11 million could not have been included in the Fiscal Year 2009 budget, and would not have prevented an override vote. The city plans to use it to fund construction at Newton North and pay for snowplowing and energy costs.

The newfound millions have others wondering if they can restore some of the cuts made after the failure of the tax override last spring. Alderman and mayoral candidate Paul Colletti said that Newton is “in the best financial condition that [he's] ever seen. Colletti called on Mayor Cohen to restore some city employees and possibly reopen Newton’s Branch libraries, which were shut following the override’s defeat. So far, Cohen has not agreed to revisiting the FY 2009 budget.

Colletti did not call for using the free money to restore staff cuts at Newton Public Schools resulting from the failure of the override. As things stand now, it will not be used to restore faculty cuts because teacher salaries are not one-time costs – they constantly need to be paid.

“I don’t see a lot [of the free money] coming back to the schools, South Principal Brian Salzer said. If the money were used to hire teachers, he said, they would have to be fired before they received their second paycheck. Salzer was hopeful, however, that some of the money might reach the schools in the form of new computers and building repairs.

Last June after the 55-45 percent vote against the override, a tax increase to raise $12 million for city funds, Salzer began the process of cutting about $800,000 from the school. This led to an increase in class sizes across the board and a reduction in offerings and electives.

Salzer said the process was challenging, but the school came together as a community to make necessary sacrifices.

“I think everyone pulled together, he said. “It was not like one area got hit harder than the others.

Salzer and his Newton North counterpart Jennifer Price were able to appeal to the city to each get $75,000 in funding restored. Salzer used this funding to restore some full time equivalents that were previously cut.

Other departments struggled to deal with the impact of the cuts. South’s Athletic Director Scott Perrin raised user fees for athletes and scaled back some team schedules to cope with his reduced budget.

Theater Department head Jeff Knoedler was forced to cut the March play and eliminate several classes due to the budget cutbacks. While many feared the annual Shakespeare play would also have to be eliminated, the play’s director stipend was restored by imposing a user fee on instruments in elementary schools.

According to Superintendant Jeff Young, the decision came down to “to fee or not to fee? Young chose to fee.ever seen. Colletti called on Mayor Cohen to restore some city employees and possibly reopen Newton’s Branch libraries, which were shut following the override’s defeat. So far, Cohen has not agreed to revisiting the FY 2009 budget.

Colletti did not call for using the free money to restore staff cuts at Newton Public Schools resulting from the failure of the override. As things stand now, it will not be used to restore faculty cuts because teacher salaries are not one-time costs – they constantly need to be paid.

“I don’t see a lot [of the free money] coming back to the schools, South Principal Brian Salzer said. If the money were used to hire teachers, he said, they would have to be fired before they received their second paycheck. Salzer was hopeful, however, that some of the money might reach the schools in the form of new computers and building repairs.

Last June after the 55-45 percent vote against the override, a tax increase to raise $12 million for city funds, Salzer began the process of cutting about $800,000 from the school. This led to an increase in class sizes across the board and a reduction in offerings and electives.

Salzer said the process was challenging, but the school came together as a community to make necessary sacrifices.

“I think everyone pulled together, he said. “It was not like one area got hit harder than the others.

Salzer and his Newton North counterpart Jennifer Price were able to appeal to the city to each get $75,000 in funding restored. Salzer used this funding to restore some full time equivalents that were previously cut.

Other departments struggled to deal with the impact of the cuts. South’s Athletic Director Scott Perrin raised user fees for athletes and scaled back some team schedules to cope with his reduced budget.

Theater Department head Jeff Knoedler was forced to cut the March play and eliminate several classes due to the budget cutbacks. While many feared the annual Shakespeare play would also have to be eliminated, the play’s director stipend was restored by imposing a user fee on instruments in elementary schools.

According to Superintendant Jeff Young, the decision came down to “to fee or not to fee? Young chose to fee.ever seen. Colletti called on Mayor Cohen to restore some city employees and possibly reopen Newton’s Branch libraries, which were shut following the override’s defeat. So far, Cohen has not agreed to revisiting the FY 2009 budget.

Colletti did not call for using the free money to restore staff cuts at Newton Public Schools resulting from the failure of the override. As things stand now, it will not be used to restore faculty cuts because teacher salaries are not one-time costs – they constantly need to be paid.

“I don’t see a lot [of the free money] coming back to the schools, South Principal Brian Salzer said. If the money were used to hire teachers, he said, they would have to be fired before they received their second paycheck. Salzer was hopeful, however, that some of the money might reach the schools in the form of new computers and building repairs.

Last June after the 55-45 percent vote against the override, a tax increase to raise $12 million for city funds, Salzer began the process of cutting about $800,000 from the school. This led to an increase in class sizes across the board and a reduction in offerings and electives.

Salzer said the process was challenging, but the school came together as a community to make necessary sacrifices.

“I think everyone pulled together, he said. “It was not like one area got hit harder than the others.

Salzer and his Newton North counterpart Jennifer Price were able to appeal to the city to each get $75,000 in funding restored. Salzer used this funding to restore some full time equivalents that were previously cut.

Other departments struggled to deal with the impact of the cuts. South’s Athletic Director Scott Perrin raised user fees for athletes and scaled back some team schedules to cope with his reduced budget.

Theater Department head Jeff Knoedler was forced to cut the March play and eliminate several classes due to the budget cutbacks. While many feared the annual Shakespeare play would also have to be eliminated, the play’s director stipend was restored by imposing a user fee on instruments in elementary schools.

According to Superintendant Jeff Young, the decision came down to “to fee or not to fee? Young chose to fee.

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/09/24/city-finds-11-mil-as-south-skimps/

URLs in this post:

[1] City slashes $7 mil from North costs: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/03/19/city-slashes-7-mil-from-north-costs/

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

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

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

[5] The face-off begins: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/04/16/the-face-off-begins/

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