Saturday, May 7, 2011

TAXPAYERS SAY, "ENOUGH ALREADY- Stop feathering the nest of municipal workers at everyone else's expense

NO WHERE in this article from the Boston Globe does it mention that the town will ask town workers to pick up a larger share of their own benefits. Instead they will continue to cut positions and reduce the net-net of this is they preserve the high standard of living for the few at the expense of the majority.

It is galling that the people who work for our towns and cities don't grasp the simple principle that the taxpayer has had to shoulder increased costs for their benefits each year over the last 10-15, when anyone in town government suggests that municipal and state workers should do the same, the Unions scream like the stuck pigs they are.....

Millis voters spoke loud and clear.....stop screwing around and put things in order. Stop "feathering the nest" of the few inside town government at the expense of others. Too bad the ones in charge of the decision making process are stone deaf to the taxpayer's directions and a HUGE part of the problem.

Without override, cutbacks expected
Voters rejected $1.1m tax increase
By James O’Brien
Globe Correspondent / May 8, 2011

Voters in Millis,MA rejected a $1.1 million tax increase last week, and town and school officials said the cuts to staff and services that they had hoped to avoid are all but assured.

The officials had proposed the Proposition 2 1/2 override measure to counter a projected $535,183 deficit in the budget for next fiscal year, based on requests from municipal and school administrators. The additional tax revenues would also have provided a five-year financial buffer against projected deficits and a prolonged economic slump, and create funding for capital projects, officials said.

Following the 965-908 vote against the measure in Monday’s town election, however, the budget presented to Town Meeting tomorrow night will call for a number of personnel and program cuts for the year starting July 1.

“All I can say to the people is that the voters have spoken, and we’ll go to Town Meeting with a balanced budget,’’ said David Baker, chairman of the School Committee. “There’s no fat, there’s no muscle; we’re talking only bone.’’

For the school system, which Baker said would absorb about 85 percent of the deficit, amounting to roughly $459,000, a balanced budget means the reduction of 2.9 full-time-equivalent positions, and the elimination of freshman sports at the high school.

Baker said seven teachers will have their hours reduced, and class sizes will increase. The elementary-level Spanish immersion program would increase from 24 to 28 students per class, he said, and the middle school’s television production, drama, and band classes will have about 30 pupils per session.

The schools will also be cutting back on professional training and curriculum instruction, reducing orders of materials and supplies, and taking money from maintenance and operations funding.

“There are not a lot of expenses from which we can cut,’’ said Baker. “Our fuel costs are going up, our heating cost is going up. We’re trying to do everything we can to save teaching positions.’’

On the municipal side, Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall said the 2012 fiscal year’s budget will drop by about $76,000.

Aspinwall said that administrative help would be cut, taking one part-time position from his office, one from the office of the town clerk, and one from the treasurer’s staff.

“This is on top of losing staff since probably 2002,’’ he said.

Staffing at Town Hall will be down to the bare minimum, Aspinwall said. “I used to have three people in my office, now there’s one. The town clerk’s office is down to one person, one full-time administrative assistant.’’

The outcome of that, he said, could be fewer office hours for town business.

Additionally, Aspinwall said, there would be changes in how the town maintains its assets.

“Next year, the DPW can’t pay the water bill,’’ he said, regarding the approximately $13,000 tab for watering the town’s fields. “We’re going to have to shift that responsibility to recreation, and have them charge more for their programs to cover the cost.’’

Officials said Millis has tried in recent years to avert the kind of budgetary decisions that led to the override request.

Baker said the recent contract for teachers had no raises in its first year, but now the second year raises are going to kick in.

Christopher Smith, chairman of the town Finance Committee, said Millis joined the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission in 2008 to take advantage of lower rates in the state’s health insurance plan, and the town moved retirees to a Medicare supplement plan.

“These create a larger pool and spread out costs more evenly,’’ said Smith. “And Millis was one of the first towns in the Commonwealth to do both. If we hadn’t, our problem would be a lot worse right now.’’

In his nine years on the school board, Baker said, only 2004 to 2006 were what he would call good times, and those came largely because of a change in how the state formulated public school funding.

“And then the economy fell off the face of the earth,’’ he said, describing the reason why state aid has been reduced.

In his 20 years as town administrator, Aspinwall said, he’s seen Millis on the financial upswing, but called the recent years a cruel reversal.

“It’s a terrible thing to see things improve, to see schools improve, to see our bond rating improve, to see our infrastructure improve, and then to see it slowly chip back away,’’ Aspinwall said. “If you had told me the ’90s were the good old days, I never would have believed you, but . . . I guess they were.’’

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company

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