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Newton mayor urges support for tax increases

Newton’s mayor, Setti ­Warren, used his State of the City address Monday to rally support for his $11.4 million tax proposal, five weeks ahead of the vote on March 12.

In the fourth and final ­address of his first term, ­Warren urged residents to vote in favor of the Proposition 2½ override package to pay for new schools and buildings, ­upgrade roads, and hire more teachers.

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“We also must recognize that the time is now to make sure our city doesn’t deteriorate further, and that the quality of life here does not ­decrease,” Warren said. “If we decide to do nothing at this time, we stand to lose the community that we know and love.”

If voters approve the three separate ballot measures, taxes on a house with the city’s median assessment of $686,000 would go up by about $343, to $8,006, Newton officials estimate.

Newton voters have not passed an override of Proposition 2½ since 2002. And this proposal comes as the governor and the Legislators debate raising a wide array of state taxes.

Warren, who will seek ­reelection in November, argued that his administration has ­improved Newton’s financial health and now needs the money to ensure that the city takes care of its aging schools, roads, and growing student enrollment.

“I think we’ve done extra­ordinary work in the last four years,” Warren said in an interview Monday morning.

Warren’s speech focused on his administration’s achievements, but left unmentioned some of its challenges, including the scandals that rocked the Police Department.

Former police chief ­Matthew Cummings was fired last October for unbecoming behavior after an internal inves­tigation alleged that he made boorish remarks to ­female employees. The Police Department was in the news again after five officers egged their superior’s house in ­December.

The incidents do not ­reflect the work of most Newton ­police officers, Warren said.

“I made a decision last summer to remove the police chief,” Warren said in the interview. “It was the right move for the Police Department, and it was the right move for the city. I am confident in a short time to have the right leadership.”

Newton is in the middle of a search for a new police chief.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes
@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.
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