Town Meeting will have 3 choices to make regarding the town budget for next year. Huge ramifications for the schools and other town departments. Huge!
Choice #1: Increase property taxes by only $144 ($12 per month) – this is the maximum 2.5% levy allowed.
The CFO recommends the following:
- Police dept. - 2 more positions – increase of 4.2% in their budget
- Health dept. – consultant – increase of 13%
- Assessor dept. – field person, customer service person, consultant – increase 27%
- Accounting dept. – extra staff – increase 6.2%
- School dept. – level service plus free, full-day Kindergarten – increase 5.3%
- Keefe Tech – increase 8.2%
- Fire Dept. – 4 firefighters – increase 3.7%
So we are making needed improvements for the whole town. I support this and am willing to pay $144 additional taxes. Keeps our town strong, keeps property values from going down.
Choice #2: Selectmen recommended this one. Cuts $1.4 million from Choice #1, which increases taxes $86 ($7 per month). There is a difference of $58 between Choice #1 and Choice #2 ($4.80 per month) - this is the 1.5% levy. All of the above improvements will be funded. The cuts mainly come from other post employment benefits. The selectmen thought we could wait to fund these benefits.
My question to the School Committee and the parents and other concerned residents is: Are there school services that should be and need to be funded this year over and above the present school budget? Things that can’t wait. We now know that the State has underfunded Framingham over $10 million over the past 3 years alone. Which meant that cuts were made such as 125 positions = higher class sizes, increased sports fees, lost math and reading and science specialists, less buses = kids getting to school late, cut late busses, cut elementary music, reduced electives at the high school, reduced foreign language at middle schools, reduced AP at the high school, cut Sage program, cut library services, loss of secretaries, cut guidance and social workers, reduced maintenance of buildings, cut professional training for teachers. Some students at the high school have no classes for 2-3 hours per day because of high class sizes, achievement below state average, drop out rate higher than state average.
Here is the vital question to the School Committee: If Town Meeting can get this $1.4 million restored to the budget (2.5% levy), will you make a case to restore some of the items cut that I have outlined above? We are talking about an extra $58 in property taxes to raise the money. That’s only $4.80 per month.
Choice #3: Pay no more property taxes next year, than this year. No increase in property taxes of $144. you get to keep $144 in your pocket. What are the Ramifications? Cut $3.8 million. Possible cuts are improvements to the town mentioned above for rebuilding the police, fire, accounting dept, assessor’s dept. health dept., plus closing Loring Arena, closing two town beaches, eliminate a fire station, cut town library materials and staff, close leaf dump, eliminate road maintanence, eliminate storm drain maintenance, cut code enforcement AND cut school budget $2.4 million.
My question to the School Committee is what, if anything, are you prepared to cut in the schools?
To me, choice #3 would start us down the slippery slope so that no one would want to buy a house in a town that keeps cutting services, has a lousy police dept., lousy fire dept, poor parks & recreation, crumbling roads, lousy libraries and lousy schools. Property values would go down and property taxes would go down also. Is this what you want for the future of Framingham?
I say keep our town strong. Don’t start going down hill. Lets move forward, not backward. It’s only 39 cents per day increase for functioning police, fire, library, schools, park & recreations, DPW. That should be a no brainer. The price to live in a good town is property taxes.
There is a race for School Committee. On April 3, you will have a choice. Please make sure your candidate supports strong schools and a strong town by advocating for the 2.5% levy, so that we can properly fund vital services.
Town Meeting Member, Precinct 4