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Taunton, MA Cuts Nearly Half of Public Safety Force

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  • #16
    Crean: Trash fee or layoffs


    Staff writer

    BEVERLY -- Mayor Thomas Crean dropped a difficult decision in the City Council's lap last night: Endorse a trash pickup fee that would cost the average homeowner $14 a month, or lay off 33 people.

    Despite state funding cuts, Crean's proposed 2004 budget of $80 million -- an increase of $146,235 over this year's budget -- does not call for any layoffs. Instead, he has proposed charging a citywide trash pickup fee that would raise $1.8 million and avoid a deficit.

    "This is our solution to the problem," Crean said. "It's not something we wanted to do. It's not something we're doing lightly."

    It will be up to the council to decide whether to approve the fee. The alternative, Crean said, is to eliminate 40 jobs, seven of which would be vacated by retirements.

    The cuts would be in addition to the 15 positions that have remained empty over the past year due to early retirement and other departures.

    "We've made so many cuts already that we're at the point where it really has come down to people," Crean said.

    And that doesn't include the 10 positions the School Committee has proposed eliminating.

    The trash fee Crean is proposing would cost the average homeowner $44 per quarter, about $14 a month. He plans to charge a flat fee for the first six months, switching over to a pay-as-you-throw system in January.

    "This (flat) fee is intended to be an interim measure, to be in place less than a year, to prevent cutting into the muscle and bone of city services," Crean said.

    He said the pay-as-you-throw system would allow each household to throw out one 30-gallon or 30-pound container of trash per week at no charge. Stickers that will cost $2.75 will be required for each additional container per household.

    The trash fee will include a three-year sunset clause, allowing the city to revisit the idea in 2006. At that time, the pay-as-you-throw system could be eliminated, or the fees could be lowered.

    Some city councilors have balked at the idea of a trash fee, saying residents are already strapped for cash. Crean said that because residents are allowed one free bag a week, it would not have a serious financial impact on residents living on fixed incomes.

    "Between that and recycling, that should be enough for those on a fixed income," Crean said.

    Though Crean said he didn't want to impose a trash fee, he asserted it is the only way the city can continue to provide the same level of services it has in the past in the face of declining state aid.

    "He's got an obligation to deliver services, and that's what it's come to," said Rob Valliere, Crean's chief of staff. "He wouldn't be doing his job if he just cut."

    Crean's proposed $79,997,086 budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 exceeds this year's $79,850,851 spending plan by 0.18 percent

    "This budget represents a thoughtful attempt to preserve core city services as we move through the worst financial crisis in decades," Crean said. "It is my belief that it is both balanced and fair, and will enable the city to weather this crisis with the least possible disruption."

    Valliere said the budget is "essentially level from last year," with the increases due mostly to health insurance, pensions, and salary step increases that are guaranteed by contract.

    "It was tight coming in," Valliere said. "So now it's really tight."

    The budget includes $35.8 million for the schools, a decrease of about $1 million from this year. When school revenues are factored in, the education budget swells to $37.6 million.

    That is still $1.6 million short of the $39.2 million budget approved by the School Committee last week. But the School Committee hopes to bridge that gap in the coming weeks by selling the unused Edwards School and encouraging staff to retire through incentives.

    The budget included no raises for department heads, except for Finance Director Thomas Durkin, whose salary will increase from $70,000 to $77,962.

    City councilors scheduled a number of budget hearings last night for what looks to be a busy month. The first of those hearings will be held on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall, focusing on the school budget. A final vote on the budget is slated for June 26.

    The council does not have the power to add money to the budget, only to make any decreases it deems necessary.


    • #17
      Funny, this city faces a severe finanical crisis yet I see no teacher getting cut or city counciours takeing a pay cut.

      Jobs at risk

      BEVERLY -- The following list shows the number of jobs that would have to be cut from each department if the city chooses not to implement a trash pickup fee:

      Police 19 (includes 6 retirements)

      Fire 6 (includes 1 retirement)

      City clerk 2

      Health Department 2

      Accounting 1

      Assessors 1

      City solicitor 1

      Council on Aging 1

      Elections 1

      Engineering 1

      Harbormaster 1

      Human resources 1

      Information services (IT) 1

      Library 1

      Planning 1


      • #18
        Despite state funding cuts, Crean's proposed 2004 budget of $80 million -- an increase of $146,235 over this year's budget -- does not call for any layoffs. Instead, he has proposed charging a citywide trash pickup fee that would raise $1.8 million and avoid a deficit.

        This, remember, is partly "trickle down" as tax receipts at the state & federal level decline from a combination of tax cuts & income declines (mainly less capital gains from the stock market), there's less aid going federal to state, and state to local.

        My town is looking at about 2.5% increase in our budget. Thankfully the schools which take 80% of our budget have a responsible 2.4% increase, and the General government is looking at 3% but I know that's being trimmed.

        Yet for only 2.5% raise in local spending (i.e. keeping up with inflation), we're looking at a 10% increase in local taxes.
        IACOJ Canine Officer


        • #19
          On the news tonight I heard that the mayor of Taunton is getting in a little bit of trouble with the city council, because he paid overtime to all the FF's who are to be laid off so that they all would get their pink slip before midnight on saturday


          • #20
            Agree with the previous posts that school costs are way out of whack and the powers who mandate them don't pick up the tab. You got to hand it to the teachers though, thay are pretty smart. Most of the teachers unions here in RI don't start contract negotiations until the beginning of August. So this way, when they don't get what they want they threaten to strike or in some cases actually do strike(illegal by the way but never enforced)and all the parents (aka. TAXPAYERS) just want their kids back in school call the politicians to complain about it so the pols cave into the teachers and they get what they want leaving the other municpal employees to scrape by. In my city the municipal side of the budget runs a surplus of $900,000 + every year. But the schools constantly run a deficit of over that and the school board simply says "Tough $h!t, you have to pay it, we can spend whatever we want". and the mayor and council have no say. The public only sees the ordinary municipal employee (firefighters overwhelmingly) as lazy good for nothings. Start looking at the teachers performance wise and tell me if we are truly getting the bang for the buck!!!
            "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

            Edward F. Croker
            Chief 1899-1911
            Fire Dept. City of New York

            HOOK N' CAN of the I.A.C.O.J.


            • #21
              Lancaster is in north-central Massachusetts, couple towns north of Worcester. Pop. 7,200 plus a small college.

              Chief warns failure of override would cripple force

              State police won't cover for police department in Lancaster Lancaster would be unprotected nights, weekends

              Karen Nugent

              LANCASTER- State police will not bail out local police to patrol Lancaster if a $2.3 million Proposition 2½ override fails at the polls June 16, the police chief said yesterday.

              There just won't be any evening, night or weekend patrols, according to Police Chief Kevin D. Lamb, and most routine calls and complaints will go unanswered.

              "The state police will not be the primary responder to calls for service," the chief said. "But if they are available, they will provide a basic response to emergency situations only."

              Selectmen say that most other town departments would either close Oct. 1 - three months into next fiscal year - or be reduced to a minimum of services if the override does not pass.

              For example, the Thayer Memorial Library - a resource for old manuscripts and genealogical materials - would close.

              Also, the Fire Department would face a 50 percent reduction of call firefighters, and the Public Works Department would stop all line painting, sanding, sweeping of streets and tree care. Snow removal service and cemetery maintenance would be greatly reduced, and Town Hall would close and some offices would move to rented space elsewhere.

              The Council on Aging, the Community Development Office, the Recreation Department - including the town beach - and the Board of Health would be eliminated completely.

              As for police matters, "calls received during the day or from the previous night would be prioritized, and only in high priority calls would an officer actually respond in person," Chief Lamb said.

              Most calls, he said, would merely be entered in a log by the dispatcher.

              He said police would not respond for neighborhood disputes, loud music or parties, "unwanted guests," property damage, misdemeanor larcenies, simple assaults or barking dogs.

              The most common complaint the department receives, he said, is for speeding, but officers would no longer be available to enforce speed limit laws.

              The state police, Chief Lamb said, will continue to investigate major crimes, as they do in most communities.

              A proposed plan in case of a defeated override, approved by the selectmen and Finance Committee, calls for the layoffs in October of eight of the 10 full-time police officers, along with the administrative assistant - who also runs the computer network - and all of the reserve officers. That would leave just Chief Lamb and one officer.

              The force currently comprises the chief, administrative secretary, two full-time sergeants, seven full-time patrol officers and six reserve patrol officers.

              "The proposed plan allows for daytime (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) police coverage, Monday through Friday, only," Chief Lamb said in a prepared statement.

              The selectmen said several times this year that state police would take over patrol duties if the layoffs occur. They also handed out printed statements to that effect at the annual town meeting last month.

              However, a few consultations with the commanding officer of the state police Troop C in Holden and the commanding officer of the Leominster barracks showed that with just two state police patrols covering 14 cities and towns, plus Route 2, Interstate 190 and parts of Interstate 495, there are just not enough troopers to regularly patrol Lancaster.

              Chief Lamb said "people who possess a criminal intent" would become aware there are no police officers on duty in town at night. He said he believes the crime rate, especially breaking and entering, and the number of accidents in town would soar.

              The passage of the override would result in a $1,069-a-year real estate tax increase on a house valued at $250,000. The taxes on such a house now are $3,652.43, according to information provided by selectmen.

              Historically, overrides in Lancaster have not passed. And while the town has chronic money problems, it was hit harder this year because of cuts to state aid and an increase in the Nashoba Regional School District budget, which must, by law, be paid because it was accepted in the other member towns of Bolton and Stow.

              In addition, much of Lancaster's land is owned by tax-exempt organizations, such as the state and federal governments, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
              IACOJ Canine Officer


              • #22
                My town in Connecticut is looking a 10% increase in local property taxes to support a 2.5% increase in local spending due to state aid cuts.

                But at least in these days of tight budgets, it's nice to know that State will still spend money where it's important

                UConn, State To Talk Strategy
                Lawsuit Could Be Finalized

                June 6, 2003
                By KEN DAVIS, Courant Staff Writer

                A meeting between UConn president Philip E. Austin, UConn athletic director Lew Perkins and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has been scheduled for this morning in the office of Gov. John G. Rowland. The inclusion of Blumenthal indicates plans could be finalized for a lawsuit against Miami, Syracuse, Boston College and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

                Miami, Boston College and Syracuse are expected to announce next week that they have accepted membership offers from the Atlantic Coast Conference and could leave the Big East as soon as 2004. The possibility of litigation was first raised during the annual Big East Conference meetings last month in Ponte Vedra, Fla., but action has not been taken during discussions intended to keep the conference together.
                IACOJ Canine Officer


                • #23
                  I feel that tax exempt properties should be paying a fee in lieu of taxes. They use the services of the community just like the taxpayer, yet pay $0!

                  ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                  Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
                    I feel that tax exempt properties should be paying a fee in lieu of taxes. They use the services of the community just like the taxpayer, yet pay $0!

                    Providence College, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, and Johnson and Wales University own considerable property in the city of Providence. They recently entered an agreement to provide the city, instead of regular taxes, with I believe 20-something million over the next 10-20 years COMBINED. Brown's endowment alone is a BILLION dollars, and yet they have to team up with 3 or 4 other schools to shell out 20 million in pocket change spread over decades???

                    The rescue runs, auto alarms, and police visits of the past to those buildings and campuses are worth a lot more than Cicillene let them off with, nevermind the future! Tax em all!!!


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