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Taunton, MA Cuts Nearly Half of Public Safety Force

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  • CollegeBuff
    replied
    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!

    Freeloaders!
    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!!!

    Leave a comment:


  • CaptainGonzo
    replied
    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!

    Freeloaders!

    Leave a comment:


  • Dalmatian90
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dalmatian90
    replied
    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
    TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF



    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • PuffyNPFD
    replied
    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!!!

    Leave a comment:


  • UFDFF15
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Dalmatian90
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • dfdex1
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • dfdex1
    replied
    Crean: Trash fee or layoffs

    By MARC FORTIER

    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dalmatian90
    replied
    Schools are better at using the "system" to mandate things.

    We have special education, like Gonzo points out.

    We also have very high education requirements -- it takes 5 years of college in my state to teach Kindergarten. I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing you need a masters-level of education at the grade and even high school level.

    A culture of lateral transfers has taken root in education. That's not necessarily bad, and it does reflect the society as a whole. But still, it puts upward pressure on all towns to meet the "average" salary less they lose teachers who jump ship for more money.

    With size comes power. There's more teachers out there than cops or firefighters, and they have more taxpayers they influence on a regular basis.

    Misguided state "fairness" mandates also hurt. My town doesn't have a high school. We used to designate one, but kids could attend others if their parents made up the difference in tuition -- usually $500 to $1000/yr. It was a nice option to choose a better fitting school than the one most students went to. Today my town *must* pay the whole tuition to wherever the student choses to go.

    In the early 90s, binding arbitration took its toll. Contracts in Connecticut almost always included 10% pay raises for 3 consecutive years -- that's something like a 40% raise in one contract, and a 40% increase it what's already the largest portion of the biggest budget item in the town budget!

    Finally, class sizes. When I went to school, 30 was standard and the teachers wanted 25. Now 25 is considered large, and they aim for 20. Well, first you need more teachers cause a grade that used to have 4 teachers now needs 6. Then you need to build bigger schools 'cause you need more classrooms. The town next to me where about half our kids go to high school is now building a new high school. They have fewer students than in the 1970s when the school was new -- but today, they have more teachers so they need more classrooms, so they need $35million for a new building!

    Leave a comment:


  • CaptainGonzo
    replied
    The big problem is with "special education", mandated by the State.

    We have 64 "special education" students with severe handicaps and disabilities that go to schoolds outside of the City and State. Their edication is mandated by the State. Guess who picks up the tab? that's right we do. In my community, $500K is spent on just TWO "students"!

    In my community, 41 city employees will be laid off, including 6 cops and 4 firefighters on July 1. We are already down 6 positions due to medical leave and IOD. There may be enough retirements to save the FD jobs, but the total that the City has to spend on "special education" ($1.7 Million) would save all of the jobs slated to be cut. If the State mandates it, then the State should pick up the tab.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 06-03-2003, 08:33 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • DaSharkie
    replied
    You blame the schools, but yet aren't you saying that they are better at this game than us?
    I thought that was my point. They are much better organized than public safety. My point about the schools is that they are taking a very disproportionate portion of the money for which there is little to no accountability.

    When I was in school, only 11 years ago mind you, I had classes that were 25 - 30 students, and sometimes more. They spent about $3500 to $4000 per pupil on us. Now classes have "been reduced" to 20 pupils adn they spend $8000 to $10000 per student in the public schools.

    With this improvement - the money has not produced the result that it should. Test scores are stagnant or down and children are not being taught what they need to be taught to get through life in modern times. Textbooks are factually wrong, nevermind that they are politically correct. Take a look at a school budget, it's a joke. All funds are in blocks and the school budgets presented are very rarely line items. In addition, 80 - 90 percent of the school budget is salaries so explain to me exactly how an increase in school spending benefits the kids? Capital improvements within the schools on an annual basis do not happen. Where is the money going? All I want is accountability and I am not getting it. Police, Fire, DPW, city hall, public health all have to justify their budgets but the school district just comes in and says I want x million this year and they get it no questions asked. Finally though, people are catching on and not giving in.

    I just want accountability. One department habitually not being touched while others are being slashed is worng. What good is it to have schools when other services for the community are diminished tremendously?

    As for the towns laying out there budgets months in advance - I understand that, but for the last 10 years we heard people screaming into the wind to stop government growth at teh rate it was, save the money, and plan for the bad times. Very few people listened to the economists and ****ed away the money - people from Taunton, to Springfield, to Boston, to the nitwits on Beacon Hill. Now they are all surprised. Who is to blame for this?

    Leave a comment:


  • dfdex1
    replied
    Lets just hope a conflagration of biblical proportions dont hit Taunton. 4 LEO's is INSANE.

    Leave a comment:


  • CollegeBuff
    replied
    Taunton PD's union stormed out of a meeting with the city council today, apparently after a very heated argument. Something to do with the council doing a lot of talking and not a lot of listening. I could be wrong, I only half-heard it.

    A map was displayed on the news last night showing the planned deployment of the 4 officers per shift.

    1, 1-man patrol car on one side of town.

    1, 1-man patrol car on the other side of town.

    1, 2-man paddy wagon in the middle.
    Last edited by CollegeBuff; 06-03-2003, 12:40 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • hfd66truck
    replied
    You know Sharkie....it always comes back to that argument, but I am not always sure that its right. and You kinda missed some of my point.

    The very people; city managers, mayors, etc etc, that say we are the "first line of defense" are also the first to cut us. Now I understand that laying off 5 firefighters in my Town(hypothetically) would have less of an impact on service than laying off 5 DPW workers. Number for number, there are more of us than them. But so what if my road doesn't get swept this week, or the puddle in my street is there a month or two longer.

    You blame the schools, but yet aren't you saying that they are better at this game than us? So who is wrong? Personally, as a taxpayer, I would rather see an increase in my taxes, than say class size go from 20 to 30. I would rather see an increase than say 2 man engines instead of 3. Its the cost of doing business. And an educated voter is a better one. Maybe we should all go back to school and learn how to fight for our budgets.

    I agree that no matter who won the picture would be the same. But I do not agree that the solutions would have been (and I am not saying O'brien would have done better). Town budgets are planned 9 to 12 months before they are put into effect (at least in our Town, where budget planning begins in Sept or Oct for the budget that begins in the following July) So for Towns to have a Town meeting, approve the budget, set the tax rate and then have the State remove funding that was included in that process...thats like you paying your credit card bill by check and then having your employers say that he cut your salary in half this week. There had to be a better way to do it, and Romney saying "these cuts should not be directed at public safety" doesn't cover it.......

    To reduce fire staffing by alomost half in a city the size of Taunton is criminal. To have 4 police officers on the street is assinine....

    There are other solutions my friend...

    Leave a comment:

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