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EiE Weighs In On Budget

It's Budget Time
It's Budget Time
Enough Is Enough (EiE) is highly impressed with the Hamilton Finance Committee's recent (2/24) budget presentation regarding school funding.  We fully agree with the statement that our current high tax rate is the result of the 10 school overrides.  "Budgeting by override" was the original impetus for the creation of Citizens For Fiscal Responsibility, a.k.a. EiE.  By our calculations, the 10 school overrides have cumulatively cost the taxpayers more than $85 million since 1998.

Sadly, that bell can not be unrung.  

EiE recognizes that we now have a highly qualified, professional and open-minded School Committee.  We call upon the School Committee to heed the Hamilton Finance Committee when it suggests that more can be done to control spending.

To that end, we wish to state that EiE strongly supports the FinCom's proposed school spending cap of 4%, an increase of nearly $900k over that of fiscal year 2014.  We would prefer to see only an increase of 3.2%,  an amount which is less than the 5.2% the schools want.  A compromise is called for.  But it is alarming that even at 4%, all of Hamilton's tax revenue increases (Proposition 2.5 + new growth, or about $700k) appear to end up going to the schools with nothing left over for Town government.

We have known for years that the cost per pupil in our school district is nearly $2,000 more than that of comparable school districts, resulting in $3 to $4 million of excess spending.  The Blue Ribbon Committee, the Operational Audit, Boston Magazine's Top 50, and the DESE's North Shore Report all point to the same conclusion.  Yet despite all these reports, very little has been done regarding the 28 fiscal recommendations of the Operational Audit.  EiE has met with Superintendent Harvey and School Committee Chairman Roger Kuebel and expressed our concerns numerous times and yet we see little progress toward implementation of the documented, identifiable and significant efficiencies and savings in that report.

Instead, we are presented with plans to initiate a new $2.5 million spending program of "New Priorities and Big Ideas" and a new Master Plan when a Master Plan already exists and continues to be ignored…the Operational Audit.

Our tax rate is now $17.40.  Wenham's is $18.88. We can not afford to continue spending at the current rate.  Restraint and moderation are imperative if we are to control the prevailing and heavy tax burden of our residents.

Submitted by:

Enough Is Enough Steeering Committee

Jay Burnham
Bruce Wadleigh
Jack Hauck
George LaMontagne
Ed Howard
Robert Sica
Jim Kent
Bea Britton
Betty Dunbar

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Carol A Mazzetta March 03, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Once again, I'm proud to say I'm a member of EIE. We've got some of the smartest people looking out for us the "Tax Payers and I for one appreciate all their hard work!
Nancy March 03, 2014 at 02:14 PM
I am total agreement with Carol. Thank you to EIE. The town is feeling more like "everyone is important"--all the town services, not just the school. Thank you.
Jazelle LaMare March 30, 2014 at 04:13 PM
I just don't understand why appendices can be legal for us to obtain on line. Yet, we cannot vote on line. With special ID numbers, voting on line will become the way of the future. Even the police, ambulance & fire often use I phones for secure communications. I cannot believe in this day and age, why we have to be physically at meetings. Other than the fact that Town Employees will be there to protect their stake in the process.
Carol A Mazzetta March 31, 2014 at 09:50 AM
Minique, have you brought this up to the Town Manager to see if it's feasible? The problem is, not everyone has a computer especially the elderly! And, if they voted by phone we'd have to have special phone lines for that purpose wouldn't we? Just saying!!

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