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Hamilton, Wenham voters are being asked to pony up again for school district

Posted by Marcia Dick  April 22, 2009 11:13 AM

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A year removed from a $1.88 million Proposition 2 override for its operating budget, the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District is coming back to voters in those towns seeking a $1,241,000 debt exclusion that would raise property taxes for 10 years.
Wenham residents will be asked for their support at Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, May 2, while Hamilton has its Annual Town Meeting on Monday, May 4. If the property tax hikes make it through town meeting, they would have to pass townwide votes at elections scheduled for May 14.
Paul Szymanski, assistant superintendent for finance and administration, said the money would fund capital projects for improvements and repairs at school buildings in the district, as well as roof repairs for the central administration building. The work addresses some overdue needs, he said.
"Deferred maintenance is going to cost communities," he said. "Our hope is that this plan will get us to the point where [maintenance] is manageable. This is an opportunity that is long overdue."
In meetings with town officials, Szymanski has said that it may be possible to combine old and new debt, restructuring it so that the district's annual payment may actually be the same or lower. That's one reason Hamilton's Finance Committee has supported the proposal, according to acting chairman Bob Bullivant.
"We're long overdue in terms of deferred maintenance in schools," he said. "Like the town, [the district] hasn't had the budget flexibility to include maintenance projects in its operating budget."
Exactly how much the two communities would have to pay is will change from year to year according to the enrollment ratio, according to Hamilton Town Administrator Candace Wheeler.
Residents in Wenham will be asked to support not just the school district's measure, but also a town-sponsored one-year, $64,500 capital override for the purchase of computers, catch basin work, a plow, and a DPW truck.
While admitting that this is a tough climate in which to seek a tax hike, Wenham Board of Selectman Chairman John Clemenzi said it is needed.
"We have done everything in our power to reduce the budget significantly," said Clemenzi, noting that the proposed fiscal year 2010 budget is lower than the budget for the current fiscal year.

David Rattigan

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5 comments so far...
  1. Any union people getting too much money? Maybe they could take a pay cut "for the children"?

    Posted by PBKingman April 23, 09 12:59 AM
  1. Why isn't a known need like maintenance paid first before other items in the budget so this doesn't occur. The schools spend every last penny on wages and benefits and know when the roof leaks the taxpayers will increase the burden so children don't get wet.

    Would this measure have a chance of passing if the override was for salaries? Then don't pass it.

    Posted by james andrews April 24, 09 05:37 AM
  1. pony up,why not? these towns voted down question # 1.pony up until you have nothing left.

    Posted by john q public April 24, 09 07:33 AM
  1. No, "union people" are not getting too much money. Hamilton-Wenham teachers' salaries are in the 50th percentile in the state. And over 80 of them have been laid off since 2003.

    All school districts have to honor very high, unfunded mandates such as special education, and NCLB costs. The federal government, when it passed Ch 766 in the late '60's wrote into the law that it was supposed to fund 40% of special education costs. They NEVER have, and so the burden falls on the local districts.

    Posted by blackberry rose April 30, 09 10:00 PM
  1. If the Hamilton Police officers paid back the $60 a week they received for being certified as EMT's (they just signed in a didn't receive the training, over $3000 per year x 19 officers) and the 30 hours of O.T. they received per year ( $1500 + ), for the no show training.
    This scam has been going on since the year 2000, they got caught last year.

    The Kicker.....Hamilton Selectman nominated one of these Criminal Cops as Police Chief last week.

    Posted by ricjin99 May 2, 09 08:00 AM
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About override central Coverage of Prop 21/2 override campaigns in more than 30 communities in Greater Boston.
Christine Wallgren is a correspondent in the Globe South bureau.
David Dahl is the Globe's regional editor.
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