NOTE: Fixed the incorrect link to the presentation on Scribd.com. Thanks to Dr. Chase for pointing it out!! – Paul.
Well, its another New Year and time to look forward to the year ahead – and back. 2010 was an eventful year here in town, what with the continuing economic crisis putting a strain on town finances lively races for both the Board of Selectmen and School Committee, and – of all things – a contentious and ultimately unsuccessful push for a Prop 2 1/2 override.
Frankly, after all that activity and what was a trying year on School Committee, I needed to take a bit of a break from the raft of big, hard to solve problems facing Belmont and focus on something smaller. To that end, I put some time an energy helping sort out the question of whether or not newer generation multi-space parking meters might be a worthwhile investment and a (welcome) new revenue stream for Belmont. My presentation to the Board of Selectmen, which I gave on December 21, is posted online and available here. Stay tuned for more on this idea as the Town and Board of Selectmen looks more closely at the parking meter question.
In any case, researching the parking meter issue was refreshing in a way – when you consider that we could collect an extra $300,000 in revenue over the next 10 years just by asking the folks who park in front of the Commuter Rail station on Royal Road to pay for the privilege…well…you start to think about what other piles of unrealized revenues are sitting out there undiscovered? Of course there are other locations for meter deployments and associated revenue (back of the envelope says $1 million in net revenue over 10 years for ~8 multi space meters to cover Leonard Street and Alexander Street). What else – some development? Maybe the Municipal Light building? Development along Prospect Street and Cushing Square?
Of course, none of these things will change the big picture, but each little bit of revenue starts to tip the scales – easing the tensions between competing factions in town and making it easier to find a compromise. Of course, nothing of this sort will happen in time to save the town from a painful budget cycle and, barring a new and successful override effort, the cuts this time around will be both deep and painful – impossible to hide.
My new year’s resolution is to do more to work cooperatively within the town to help us find answers to these painful budgeting questions but, also, to fight to preserve what I think is Belmont’s great and decades-long tradition of fostering excellent, public education and a nurturing, safe community. I hope that we, as a town, can resolve to finally tackling the town’s budget problems in a serious way and moving past the “what ifs” to put Belmont on the road to a bright future.