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Budget time Reflections

This is the season that our town officials start putting together the Town’s budget of the next fiscal year.  As they wrestle with making expenses balance with revenues, citizens ask why we can’t have the improvements in services that we all would like to see.  Why can’t we spend more money on beautifying the town?  They ask how come our expenses are increasing faster than our revenues and why is revenue a problem?

 

The answer is simple, “State Aid”.  Since Fy 2005 of all the six (6) towns in our Senate and Representative district, only Stoneham and Wakefield received less State Aid in FY 2014 than they did in 2005.  Stoneham received $1,619,172 less while Wakefield received $814, 270 less according to the Mass Dept of Revenue.  Who received the largest increases?  The answer shouldn’t surprise you; Malden got an increase of $7,339,314 while Winchester’s increase was $3,823,903. Reading’s increase was $1,437,077.

 

The problem becomes greater when you add in the Stoneham’s assessment for the Voke School.  That amount has increased by $545,423 or 135% over the same period. By contrast Stoneham’s school budget increased only 15%.

 

During the same time period, proposition 2 ½ plus new growth provided Stoneham with $11,159,969 in new revenue, however $2,219,400 had to be used make the loss in State Aid and the increase Voke assessment and could not be used for service improvement.

 

The data is clear, the people of Stoneham are being short changed, and our elected State representatives, care more about who can give them the most votes than what is in the best interest of Stoneham.

 

During this election year, when the State candidates ask for your support, ask them what are they going to do to insure that Stoneham gets its’ fair share.





Mary Lou Bracciotti January 25, 2014 at 01:23 PM
State Aid is vital to each community. It's unfortunate that Stoneham does not receive its fair share. One of the obvious reasons is that we have no one working on our behalf. We need our own representative. We had a great opportunity when George Georgountzos was on the ballot. We muffed it. Why? The voters of Stoneham let party politics get in the way of reason. George is capable, knowledgeable, and able to fight for Stoneham. Now we have to depend on an "outsider", who while capable and knowledgeable, is not going to fight like "one of our own."
Jim Sinclair January 28, 2014 at 01:39 PM
A very important factor that Mr. Rotondi ignores in his discussion of state aid is the role that school enrollment plays in the amount of Chapter 70 aid each community receives. I pulled some enrollment data off the state DOE website. Between 2004 and 2011 (the last year for which data was available) Malden's public school enrollment increased by 5% while Stoneham's dropped by 18%. Before we accept Mr. Rotondi's assertion that our failure to keep up with our neighbors in state aid is all the fault of our current representatives perhaps we should ask him why so many students left the Stoneham public schools during his tenure on the Board of Selectmen.
Paul Rotondi January 28, 2014 at 02:21 PM
Mr. Sinclair has tried the same double talk used by our representatives. The fact is that Stoneham's Chapter 70 funding has had a larger percent increases than the other towns over the same period. It is just that the other State aid has decreased overwhelmingly more than the other communities and that is why our Gross state aid has decreased substantially while the other communities, except Wakefield's has increased substantially
Paul John Maisano January 29, 2014 at 08:31 AM
I enjoy the debate gentlemen.....however, Mr Sinclair please don't attack the author personally..... we need to get to the root of the problem. It maybe true that the deficit in funding may well be a lack of representation at the statehouse by Stoneham's state representatives who have been lobbying for promotions to higher office for themselves. Now, for the main issue. If you want your community to be accounted for when they are allocating funding, then show up to vote on Tuesday, March 3rd, when we vote a new state senator into office. By staying on the couch and not VOTING, you may get more of the same.......less representation than what you deserve!!!!
George Georgountzos January 29, 2014 at 09:02 PM
We are not electing our next state senator on March 3rd; that is the primary. The winner will face Melrose Alderwoman Monica Medeiros, the only Republican in the race. It's presumptuous to simply name the Democratic primary winner the next senator. Monica is a great candidate and will run a competitive, issue based race. As for state aid, there are certainly many factors at play, but Stoneham has always been systematically short-changed by the unfair system. Enrollment is but factor in an outdated and flawed allocation system.
Paul John Maisano January 30, 2014 at 08:50 AM
Hi George, Thanks for your redirect on the election primary in March. However, we both made a serious error stating the primary is on March 3rd..........THE PRIMARY ELECTION FOR STATE SENATOR NOMINATIONS IS .....TUESDAY----MARCH 4, 2014. Sorry, my mistake! BTW. Monica Medeiros is a wonderful person. I think she is doing a fabulous job on the Melrose School Committee. True, as a Republican, with no opposition in the primary, Monica travels directly to the general election, of APRIL 1st. As many voters, I support the best candidate, accompanied by the issues that respect the current needs of the people within the district. BUT,.....in this race, I am compelled to support a candidate who has 20 years experience as the current State Representative from Malden, Chris Fallon. Chris is already well respected in the state house and knows how to get things done for his district. Chris Fallon shall restore fairness to Stoneham state funding appropriations. Chris won't need to be trained as a new legislator.....he is well versed in the job!!
George Georgountzos January 30, 2014 at 05:27 PM
Paul: Our mutual bad with the dates, and I wholeheartedly agree that we vote for the best person for the job, regardless of party affiliation. Your reasons for voting for Chris Fallon are genuine, on point, and good. May the best candidate win! It will be fun to watch for sure..... (one small correction, Monica is an alderwoman, I'm not sure if she served on the school committee in the past, though....)

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