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The Boston Globe

West

Opinion

Newton voters should reject override because costs are unsustainable

Residents should vote no on each of the override questions. Three no votes will keep Newton affordable by telling elected officials to live within their means.

Newton leaders are asking us for a tax hike on top of our annual rise in local taxes of 2.5 percent. They shamelessly ask when the US economy is stalled and both federal and state taxes are rising.

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We fight the overrides so that we can afford to stay in Newton. Three no votes will tell our elected officials that endless spending and tax ­increases are destructive for Newton families.

Burlington recently built a new elementary school that ­resembled Cabot, Angier, and Zervas in terms of size and student enrollment. Yet the net cost for Burlington was ­between 35 and 50 percent less than the net proposed cost ­associated with any one of Newton’s three elementary schools slated for renovation or rebuilding.

If that’s not enough to make a taxpayer skeptical, the city has admitted that the estimated cost per school could rise. Given the skyrocketing costs of Newton North High School, this lack of a price guarantee makes Newton residents ­extremely nervous.

Newton’s capable leadership has ample options for improving infrastructure without raising property taxes. Since 80 percent of all city expenditures go to employee salary and benefits, the city could pay for infrastructure by reforming union contracts. Those contracts currently award city workers far richer health care and pension benefits than private-sector workers enjoy.

Newton could also reduce employee pay raises. If salaries rose 1 percent instead of 2.5 percent, the city would save $11.9 million in annual spending over a three-year period.

The costs are unsustainable.

Joshua Norman and Suzanne Szescila cochair Moving ­Newton Forward.

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