Even 14 years ago when I moved to town – let alone the Belmont of 30 or 40 years ago- a Jessie Bennett in Belmont simply would not have stood for election for Selectman, let alone win six precincts and come within 128 votes of winning it all. In that Belmont, nobody would have encouraged her to run and there would have been no infrastructure to carry her campaign to the finish line.
It was a case of political whiplash in Belmont on Tuesday. Just months after voters in town sent a “no new taxes” message to Town officials by narrowly defeated a Proposition 2 1/2 override they were back at the polls: resoundingly backing the State’s Democratic leadership, voting down a cut to the State sales tax and voting themselves a small property tax increase by agreeing to support the State’s Community Preservation Act.
Belmont ranked a paltry 29th out of 150 in last year’s high school rankings, despite landing numerous, national awards, including a Silver Medal on the U.S. News and World Report list of Best High Schools and an award from Forbes Magazine and Great Schools that listed Belmont as the top district among towns with a median home price between $600,000 and $799,000. What does Boston Magazine know that these other publications don’t? Read on to find out!
A study of home values in Bay State towns finds that home owners reap far more financial gain from passing overrides that benefit local school systems through increased property values than they save in taxes. What will be the price of this month’s “NO” vote for Belmont home owners?
Clearly there was a lot of anger out there – and maybe the “YES” campaign misread it, or maybe there was nothing to be done. In an environment in which so many private sector employees are losing their jobs, maybe some folks will find it cathartic to fire some public sector employees, so their families can suffer, too. That’s a mean sentiment, but I don’t doubt it exists. As for the services those employees provide…there will be fewer of them. Like what, you ask? Well, school for one — Belmont High is shortening extracurricular courses from full year to half year — part of a trend that has seen BHS eliminate 19 class sections in just the last two years to try to live within budget constraints.
Belmont votes today for a $2 million override of Proposition 2 ½. I’m going to be voting yes and I encourage you to, also. I’ve been deeply involved in the YES campaign, OneBelmont, and there’s much that I could say about why I think its critical to for Belmont to start to correct its structural budget deficit and pass this override. Even if this override passes, there will be deep cuts to services, as the Town struggles to find $1.5m in savings from an already lean budget.
With a vote on a proposition 2 1/2 override due on the ballot on June 14, its time to get organized and make sure that the override passes. There’s an important meeting of the Warrant Committee, School Committee and Board of Selectman on Wednesday and an organizational meeting tonight for those interested in joining the campaign in support of a Proposition 2 1/2 override vote. Check it out!