View UNOFFICIAL Election night results after 8:00pm HERE
Voter notice for the override vote
Summary of Tax Assistance Programs
Take a virtual tour of Angier, Cabot and Zervas
Mayor Warren answers questions from residents at a town hall meeting at the Lower Falls Community Center on Sunday, March 3rd
A Message from Mayor Setti Warren
When I was inaugurated as your mayor nearly three years ago, I promised you that together we would restore confidence and build a positive future. Today I'm both happy and proud to tell you that we have broken Newton's gridlock and completely reversed our financial trajectory. By rewriting our health care and compensation plans, we were able to sign contracts with both our municipal and teachers' unions that did not exceed revenue growth, that will save the city $178 million over the next five years. We also put in place fundamental budget, performance management, and risk-based capital planning processes that save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Zero-basing our budgets has saved the city $15 million over the past three years.
But our work doesn't stop here. This week I have asked the Board of Aldermen to bring to voters a package of Proposition 2 ½ overrides that would help the city rehabilitate our crumbling school buildings, alleviate the pressures of enrollment growth in our schools, and improve public safety in our community.
While this override package, totaling $11.4 million, includes three separate ballot questions in order to meet state guidelines for school construction reimbursement, it must be viewed as one whole comprised of interconnected pieces which, when taken together, will help build Newton's future.
Recently ranked fourth among best U.S. cities to live in by CNN and Money Magazine, Newton continues to attract new families in record numbers. At the same time, pedestrian and bicycle accidents have increased, with many roads and sidewalks in serious need of repair. School enrollment has increased rapidly, while students attend deteriorating school buildings that are bursting at the seams. Of our 15 elementary schools, 12 need major work.
We can no longer wait to begin addressing this unacceptable situation.
That's why I am requesting two separate debt exclusion overrides-temporary tax increases to pay for debt service for specific capital projects-for Angier ($1.3 million) and Cabot ($1.7 million) elementary schools. Angier, built in 1919, is in shockingly poor condition and is inadequately supported by aging, failing systems. Your money would go toward a new school that would accommodate more children.
Newtonville's Cabot School, built in 1929, has also outlasted its lifespan. The building can't function much longer without a serious overhaul. The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) is already working with us on the Angier project and has recognized Cabot's condition as equally dire in their most recent needs survey.
At Zervas Elementary School, conditions are very poor and enrollment has outgrown capacity. As one of our smaller centrally located schools, Zervas provides the opportunity to add classrooms to accommodate our skyrocketing school population. Because we are unlikely to receive MSBA funding for this project, I have chosen to bundle debt service payments into an $8.4 million operating override that also includes funds for roads and sidewalk repair, four additional police officers to manage traffic and safety concerns, the renovation of the hub of our fire department: Station 3, and department headquarters, and rising school enrollment.
This piece is critical. In the past ten years, enrollment in the Newton Public Schools has increased by more than 1,000 students and we expect numbers to keep growing for the next several years. Override money would pay for the teachers, aides and other essentials required to deliver the quality education that our students deserve.
I fully understand the sacrifices this will require for some of our residents. But please know that I would not make this request if I didn't think it was necessary for our future.
Your approval of my override package will increase the tax bill for the owner of a house assessed at $686,000 - the median assessment in Newton - roughly $343/year. To get an exact figure, use the tool we've provided at www.newtonma.gov.
I plan to visit every ward in the city in the coming weeks to answer your questions, to explain the differences between overrides and debt exclusions, and to tell you why I want you to vote yes three times on March 12. Our next Town Hall meeting will take place at the Angier Elementary School, located at 1697 Beacon Street, on Thursday, December 13th at 7pm.
I am proud to have brought our operating expenses under control. Now it's time to fix our roads and buildings that we have neglected for far too long and to create new space for our growing student population. We need to hire teachers to put in those classrooms to maintain effective class sizes. We need to ensure the safety of neighborhoods, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
The three ballot questions are essential components of one unified effort to help Newton meet its full potential. Please join me in voting yes on all three questions so that together, we can build Newton's future.
Setti D. Warren