school department

Saugus schools hit home

FILE PHOTO
 
Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi said he hopes to bring new social worker to the district by August 1.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — The School Department wants to provide support for students before and after the bell rings.

In addition to filling two administrative positions by the end of the month, Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi said he hopes to bring two new social workers to the district to focus on issues outside of the confines of the school buildings.

“They would provide more wrap-around services for our most needy, social-emotional kids and families,” said DeRuosi. “If we had a crisis over the weekend, we could have someone ready to go Sunday to go visit the family and see what the child needs before he or she comes back to school. It’s an innovative model. If we could pilot it and make it work here, I think other districts could use this and benefit from it.”

For several years, the district has wanted to bring additional adjustment counselors to the team, said DeRuosi. A school budget allocation of $100,000 more than the department expected to receive, will provide funding for two counselors’ salaries, he said.

Town Meeting members supported the Finance Committee’s recommendation in May for a $28.5 million School Department budget, which was $100,000 more than Town Manager Scott Crabtree recommended.

DeRuosi will meet with representatives from the Department of Children and Families today to learn more about the services they provide to help model a program that will benefit students. He envisions personnel tackling issues similar to those that social workers for DCF take on.

“Every district has adjustment counselors,” said DeRuosi. “They do a lot of social-emotional work. They’re there to service students. I’m looking to expand that model a little bit and provide a resource to the day-to-day counselors, families, parents, and all parts of the child’s life. It’s a wrap-around service — that’s what I’m trying to create.”

DeRuosi said he has wanted to develop the program since he worked as a school principal and witnessed problems at that level. As a superintendent in Malden, he witnessed problems including children having meltdowns and faculty being unable to reach a parent.

“I would love to see this program work,” DeRuosi said.

DeRuosi is also working to find a new executive director of pupil personnel services and a new athletic director for Saugus Public Schools. Former executive director Lisa Howard left the position to serve as interim superintendent of Winthrop Public Schools, a job she accepted in May.

“The job is a lot of work,” he said. “People can learn the job but we’re looking for someone with a background in special education and, above all else, someone who is a hard worker.”

DeRuosi hopes to fill the positions by August 1.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Schools come up $800K short in Saugus

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Town Meeting members passed an $80,397,000 town budget that includes $28.5 million for the School Department, leaving a gap of more than $750,000.

The School Committee originally requested a $29.6 million budget and Town Manager Scott Crabtree came back with a recommendation for $1.6 million less. After making adjustments to the department’s critical needs, Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi said the district would still face a $900,000 shortfall.

Ultimately, residents supported the Finance Committee’s recommendation, which reduced the shortfall by $100,000.

The decision will leave the School Committee to vote on cost containments presented by DeRuosi that include closing the Ballard Early Childhood Center and moving the students to the Veterans Memorial Elementary School. Relocating the program would save the district between $140,000 and $145,000, he said.

The Ballard students would use two classrooms and a first and a third grade class would see an increase in size to 27 and 28 students. DeRuosi plans to allow parents to opt to send their children to other schools with smaller class sizes and expects the numbers will drop by the start of the school year.

Man robbed walking home from work

The plan also includes not replacing seven retiring employees — six teachers and a nurse — and cutting one elementary school teacher. Six paraprofessional positions would also be eliminated to save the district between $98,000 and $114,000.

A custodian and clerk who work at Ballard will be transfered to fill open positions from retiring employees at Veterans Memorial. The Ballard nurse will move to the high school to fill one of two vacant positions. A second vacant nursing position will not be filled. A kindergarten teacher at Veterans Memorial will be moved to fill an open position at Lynnhurst Elementary School.

A Municipal Town Department Operating Budget of $51,822,000 was also passed. The budget includes a $6.7 million allocation for the Saugus Police Department, $4.9 million for the Fire Department, $4.5 million for the Department of Public Works, $211,000 for the Department of Planning and Economic Development, and $641,000 for the Saugus Public Library.

Among the highest salaries are the chief of police at $160,000; the fire chief at $146,000; the town manager at $128,000; and the deputy fire chief at $116,00.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

 

Saugus Town Meeting gets out the vote

COURTESY PHOTO
A rendering of a possible new middle-high school.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Residents will hit the polls to vote on $186 million in improvements to the town’s public schools on June 20.

Town Meeting convened for its fourth meeting since the beginning of the month Tuesday night to determine that residents will vote on a new $160 million middle-high school and $25 million worth of improvements to two existing schools for reuse as upper and lower elementary schools.

“I’m not going to have children in my household going to a new school unless my household appears on the front page of The National Enquirer,” said Precinct 4 Town Meeting Member Al Dinardo. “But I am a supporter of democracy.”

Today is the final day to register to vote in the June 20 special election. The Town Clerk’s office will remain open until 8 p.m.

The School Building Committee recently approved a total budget investment of $186 million, which includes an investment of $160 million for a proposed grades 6-12 combination middle and high school.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) will reimburse the town at a minimum rate of 53 percent — which is expected to increase — of eligible approved project costs.

In addition, a $25 million district-wide master plan would restructure the district to include an upper elementary school for grades 3-5 at the existing Belmonte Middle School and a lower elementary school for Pre-K through grade 2 at the Veterans Memorial Elementary School. The master plan is a town project and is not being pursued through the MSBA. The town’s share of the total project would be an estimated $118 million, bonded over a 30-year period.

Town Manager Scott Crabtree said the town’s recently earned S&P AA+ bond rating, which is the highest rating in the town’s history, will save taxpayers an estimated $7.2 million over the life of the bond.

A fact sheet provided by Crabtree details the cost to residents with average home value assessments. According to The Warren Group, in March, the median home value in Saugus was $374,950.

At $375,000, the cost would be $76 in 2018, $118 in 2019, and would continue gradually increasing until reaching $541 in 2024. The cost would then begin to gradually decline.

Council overrides mayor’s meal tax veto

Town Meeting members voted 42-2 in favor of both articles after more than an hour-and-a-half of discussion over whether individuals supported or opposed building a new high school.

Members Bill Brown and and Eugene Decareau, who voted against both articles, admitted there is a need for a new school, but argued that the plan in place is not right for the town.

“There is all kinds of construction going on — we’re building hotels, apartments, condos — and we don’t even have a West Side Fire Station,” said Decareau. “That’s public safety. Schools are important. So isn’t life and we’re going to have to address that.”

Brown said he was concerned with traffic and questioned whether the current high school site was the best location for a new school.

Jonathan McTague, a 2014 graduate of Saugus High School, described the need for improvements to his fellow Town Meeting members.

“We would be in class half the time and the teacher would ‘say some of you have to move because the ceiling is leaking,’” he said. “We were learning from books that didn’t include anything about our first black president. We don’t learn sitting in rows anymore being talked at by a teacher — we need those collaborative classroom spaces. Our community needs a chance, our youth needs a chance. Until we speak up, we’re not going to get anything that we need or deserve. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m a Town Meeting member.”

“This is pretty exciting news tonight,” said Crabtree. “Exciting things are happening here. We’ve been talking about a new high school for many years now — probably eight to 10 — even back when I was on the Board of Selectmen.

“My father was in the first graduating class there in 1956,” said Crabtree. “I look at that project and my grandfather and parents paid for that current school that’s there now. It’s been a long time since any of the generations have been able to contribute but it’s past its time. The needs of the community brought us into the current middle-high school model. I think that we’ve identified what the needs are in the community and what plan would address those needs. Ultimately the residents will decide the direction of the town.”

Town Meeting members did not reach a decision on the School Department’s budget or address any other articles before The Item’s deadline Tuesday night.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemilve.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Meeting to consider Saugus school vote

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is a rendering of a possible new school in Saugus.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS Town Meeting members will be asked Tuesday to decide whether residents will hit the polls on June 20 to vote on a new middle-high school.

The School Building Committee recently approved a total project budget investment of $186 million, which includes an investment of $160 million for a proposed grades 6-12 combination middle and high school.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) will reimburse the town at a minimum rate of 53 percent which is expected to increase of eligible approved project costs.

In addition, a $25 million district-wide master plan would restructure the district to include an upper elementary school for grades 3-5 at the existing Belmonte Middle School and a lower elementary school for Pre-K through grade 2 at the Veterans Memorial Elementary School. The master plan is a town project and is not being pursued through the MSBA. The town’s share of the total project would be an estimated $118 million, bonded over a 30-year period.

Town Manager Scott Crabtree said the town’s recently earned S&P AA+ bond rating, which is the highest rating in the town’s history, will save taxpayers an estimated $7.2 million in savings over the life of the bond.

A fact sheet provided by Crabtree details the cost to residents with average home value assessments. According to The Warren Group, in March, the median home value in Saugus was $374,950.

At $375,000, the cost would be $76 in 2018, $118 in 2019, and would continue gradually increasing until reaching $541 in 2024. The cost would then begin to gradually decline.

With a home valued at $300,000, a resident would contribute an estimated $61 in 2018, $94 in the second year, and peak at $433 in 2014. If a resident’s home is valued at $150,000, they would pay $30 in the first year and peak at $216 in 2024.

On June 20, voters will need to approve both ballot questions for either initiative to move forward, Crabtree said.

The first question will ask residents to support the middle-high school building. The 270,000-square-foot school will have a 12,000-square-foot gymnasium, 750-seat auditorium, capacity for more than 1,300 students, state-of-the-art science labs, a sports complex, walking paths, and student gardens.

Students lend voices to Memorial Day

The second question will ask residents to support the District-Wide Master Plan Solution, which will provide money to renovate and improve the Belmonte Middle School and Veterans Memorial School to be reused as the town’s only upper and lower elementary schools.

Town Meeting Members will also vote Tuesday on the School Department’s budget. Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi proposed cuts to the School Committee on Thursday that would make up for a potential $900,000 gap.

The School Committee voted a $29.6 million budget but the Finance Committee is supporting Town Manager Scott Crabtree’s recommendation for $1.6 million less. After making adjustments to the department’s critical needs, DeRuosi said the district would still face a $900,000 shortfall.

To help close the gap, DeRuosi proposed closing the Ballard Early Education Center, which has several curriculum-based preschool classes, about five of which are integrated classes of both regular and special education.

This year the school has 118 children, though some are half-day and part-time students. Moving the program would save the district between $140,000 and $145,000, he said.

He originally suggested relocating the more self-contained classes to Saugus High School and the more inclusive classes to Veterans Memorial Elementary School but parents didn’t agree that a high school setting was the best place for their children.

He recrafted the plan, moving all children to Veterans Memorial instead. The Ballard students would use two classrooms and a first and a third grade class would see an increase in size to 27 and 28 students. He plans to allow parents to opt to send their children to other schools with smaller class sizes and expects the numbers will drop by the start of the school year.

Krista Follis, who has a 4-year-old son at Ballard, said she appreciates the changes DeRuosi has made to the plan but feels very uneasy going into June without knowing where her son will attend school.

A custodian and clerk who work at Ballard will be transfered to fill open positions from retiring employees at Veterans Memorial. The Ballard nurse will move to the high school to fill one of two vacant positions. A second vacant nursing position will not be filled. A kindergarten teacher at Veterans Memorial will be moved to fill an open position at Lynnhurst Elementary School.

“There will be a time that the early education center will not be in a stand alone building, it will be part of a Pre-K to (grade) 2,” said DeRuosi. “We’re making those moves now.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemilve.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Saugus Town Meeting is at play

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Town Meeting agreed to appropriate $1 million for the town’s parks and playgrounds Monday night.

Two articles passed pertaining to the parks: one for $500,000 to repair and maintain existing playgrounds and a second for $500,000 to add security, lighting and cameras to three parks – Bristow Street Park, Veteran’s Elementary School and Belmonte Middle School.

“It seems we’re spending a lot of money on things we don’t really need,” said William Cash, a Saugus police officer. “When the Town Manager gets up here and talks about priorities – I think police and fire deserve to be priorities. So far this year, we’ve given half a million to parks and playgrounds and it looks like it’s going to be another half a million. I read different things are being allocated in this article – $30,000 for seesaws and some sort of fire engine playground equipment. The priority should be more on the town employees than $100,000 on a lacrosse wall.

“Last night a police officer told me he’s collecting food stamps,” Cash said. “That is completely unacceptable and that needs to be a priority. We didn’t ask for much in our negotiations and we deserve to be treated a little bit better by our community.”

But Town Manager Scott Crabtree said the money will be used for much-needed repairs to parks, some of which haven’t seen updates in half a decade. Improvements to Stackpole field and removing apparatuses such as steel slides are on the list.

“We’re ready to start doing this work immediately so that people can enjoy (the parks) this spring rather than waiting for the Annual (Town Meeting) to close,” Crabtree said. “The Department of Public Works will produce a short list for each playground. There are still a lot of safety issues – kids are getting hurt.”

Rainbow shines this summer

The second allocation will allow the installation of security cameras on the parks and around the perimeters of the parks and schools. The cameras will have remote access so police officers can monitor the parks on their laptops, Crabtree said.

Gregory Nickolas, director of Youth and Recreation, voiced his support for the motions. Nickolas said the fields are in deplorable conditions and many of the parks are dangerous.

A few Town Meeting members questioned why all of the articles had to be taken up in a special meeting and whether it had to do with tying up funds right out of the gate.

School Committee Member Peter Manoogian and several residents spoke about the School Department’s need for more funding and questioned whether the town really needed to move $1.5 million into the Stabilization Fund to maintain its bond rating or if a lesser amount would have the same effect. Many suggested cutting the number to $1.2 million and using the excess elsewhere, such as in the schools or to go toward the pumping station repairs. Parents hoped the money could be used to avoid the School Department’s proposed solution to closing the budget gap by closing the Ballard Early Education Center and increasing class sizes.

“Why couldn’t it have waited until Article 8 at the annual – was it to tie the money up? Perhaps,” said Manoogian.

Ultimately Town Meeting voted 35-3 to transfer the full $1.5 million in free cash to the fund.

Town Meeting members voted unanimously to support an article to borrow $4.3 million to fund the first two phases of improvement projects to the town’s main pumping station on Lincoln Avenue.

The station, constructed in the 1980s, has a poor design and is in need of a permanent bypass, said Crabtree. Saugus Public Schools was also allocated $82,000 for the one-time purchase of Chromebooks.

The annual meeting was suspended until next Monday, May 6, when members will take up the remaining issues.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

City seeking student sanctuary

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — The School Committee adopted a policy to protect students from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It would be bad if we turned our backs on these kids,” said Oscar Ross, who has a daughter in Lynn Public Schools who dreams of being both a police officer and a cook. “If we don’t give them the chance to be what they want to be.”

Mary Sweeney, a retired teacher, said that during her career, students had to worry about getting their homework done.

“I never faced situations of kids being deeply afraid,” said Sweeney. “I think with the issues of immigration and ICE — it’s a reality.”

The panel voted unanimously to adopt a policy that affirms the schools are safe and welcoming sanctuaries for all students, regardless of their immigration status. The document said the resolutions are intended to ensure that all Lynn Public Schools students have the same right to a free, public education and will be treated equally.

“The mission of Lynn Public Schools is to maintain a multicultural school community dedicated to the realization of the full intellectual, physical, social and emotional potential of its students,” reads the resolution. “The city is enriched and strengthened by its diverse cultural heritage, multinational population, and welcoming attitude toward newcomers.”

Committee member John Ford pointed out that while he agreed with where the resolutions were coming from, he believed they were only reaffirming what the district already does. Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham agreed.

“I believe we have welcoming schools and that our teachers are wonderful and welcoming,” said Latham. “We have not had a case where ICE has come into our schools.”

She added that she believes ICE is restricted from taking immigrants into custody at schools and churches.

“Rather than us saying we already do that, we’ll be able to say that we have a policy for that,” said committee member Donna Coppola. “I think it would be a huge reassurance to our students. Let’s be upfront and be what we are — a proud community — and show others that we care.”

Immigrant-worker march set for Monday

Latham and committee members expressed concerns about a resolution included in the original draft that prohibited federal immigration law enforcement officers, or personnel assisting them, from entering a school building.

“I worry about training teachers not to allow law enforcement to come into the building,” she said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy added that she was “very uncomfortable” with the section of the resolution because it should be recognized that federal law supersedes local law.

“It seems to me that it’s not a valid exercise of a city’s rights in the presence of federal government,” she said.

The panel amended the resolution to state that law enforcement can enter the building, but must remain in the main office until his or her credentials are verified and the superintendent is notified. The vote will be subject to final approval of the language.

Under the policy, the district will not inquire about, record, or request information intended to reveal the immigration status of a student or their family members. They will not disclose private information without parental consent, and staff will refuse to share all voluntary information with immigration agencies to the fullest extent permissible by the law.

All requests for information from a student’s education record will be immediately forwarded to the School Department’s attorney. The motion also noted that the district does not ask for immigration status when families register children for school.

A letter will be sent to parents and staff summarizing the resolutions in simple language. A list of all available resources, including community-based organizations and legal service organizations, will be provided to each student and made available at each school. It will be translated when necessary. Teachers will be trained on the policy before the start of the school year, when they become familiarized with all other policies.

In the next 90 days, Latham will be expected to develop a plan for training teachers, administrators and other staff on the new policy and best practices for ensuring the wellbeing of students, who may be affected by immigration enforcement actions. The plan will be implemented within five months.Legis

A copy of the resolution will be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General and to Lynn’s federal, state, and local legislative representatives.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

 

Money matters in Swampscott

By LEAH DEARBORN

SWAMPSCOTT — A joint session between the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday night moved the annual budget one step closer to completion.

The FY18 budget saw a $1.2 million increase from last year, amounting to a 4 percent overall spike.  

Marzie Galazka, vice chair of the finance committee, said the budget will be finalized at Town Meeting in May, but for now changes are still possible.

“We’re just beginning the process. We still haven’t had the opportunity to deliberate,” she said.

Committee ponders meaning of ‘sanctuary’

During the goal-setting session, finance committee member Jill Sullivan jotted down which departments have yet to present their budgets.

The town fire and police departments are requesting equipment increases this year, with $11,500 for new police firearms and $15,000 for fire engine repairs, according to the proposed budget.

The police department is seeking $27,000 in funding for two three-season motorcycles.

The Recreation Department budget includes a new line item for the July 4 fireworks.

It’s the School Department, however, that has the largest proposed budget of approximately $28 million.

Galazka said to accommodate the school budget, payment of some services will be shifted from the school to the cityside, including the partial salary of the facilities director.

The official town warrant will be sent to the printers on April 24 and distributed shortly after.


Leah Dearborn can be reached at ldearborn@itemlive.com.

In Revere, no school Weds.; parking ban stays

REVERE — Due to treacherous, icy conditions, the Revere Public Schools will be closed Wednesday, according to a news release.

All city offices, including City Hall and all school department offices, will be open for regular business hours.

The snow emergency and parking ban remains in effect until further notice so the Department of Public Works can complete cleanup. Follow the city’s accounts on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Residents should be aware of the list of emergency arteries (http://reverepolice.org/snow-emergency-parking/) and not park on these streets until the ban is lifted. Vehicles parked on emergency arteries will be towed for the duration of the ban.

Parking ban up at 12 a.m.; no school Wednesday

Fast-paced kids need to save time for summer

ITEM FILE PHOTO

School’s out.

But empty classrooms don’t translate into eight upcoming weeks of carefree fun around the house or hanging out with friends for 21st-century children.

Some kids will take remedial classes this summer to keep them on track with English language learning goals or other subjects. Others will attend sports team practices or other activities. Still others will juggle jobs, and somewhere between study, work and sports a little room will be set aside for fun.

Summertime once meant endless days spent running around with friends, playing street games and huddling around a basement black-and-white television set to watch Vincent Price movies on rainy days. Summer turned every day into Saturday and Sunday and in June and July, Labor Day looked as distant as a mountain viewed across a vast plain.

Those idyllic times have shrunk under increased pressure from schools focused on comprehensive testing and high-technology gadgets that pull kids away from blue-sky days, tree climbing, frog catching and ghost stories.

Kids will always be kids. But how many proposals for increased study time and ramped-up school-to-work experience will it take to shrink summer into a time period resembling spring vacation or Christmas break?

Kids need time away from classrooms and structure. But the days of letting them run around the empty lot at the end of the block or bicycle down to Main Street have gone the way of Norman Rockwell.

The city of Lynn and the School Department devised a great way a few years ago to balance fun and learning for kids of all ages and family incomes. Project LEARN, based at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, is a summer program that spanned several weeks during the summer and gave kids the opportunity to spend their mornings learning and their afternoons playing.

The classroom activities covered subjects students were required to master for the new school year. But they also offered kids a chance to explore topics touched on briefly during the academic year. The afternoon recreation activities were scattered across city parks and playgrounds.

LEARN gave kids the opportunity to enjoy structured fun, while staying partially tuned in to school. The program gave parents a break mentally and financially while still allowing kids to spend a few weeks on vacation before September.

It takes money to make a project like LEARN work and education dollars get stretched thinner and thinner by the demands placed on them by modern curriculums. But a program like LEARN packed a lot of bang for the buck and instilled in kids a valuable lesson: There is no need to take a vacation from learning, the trick is to make it fun.

A final four completion for Saugus

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Finance committee member Kenneth L. DePatto discusses the Fiscal Year 2017 budget at Saugus Town Hall Monday.

BY BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Town Meeting unanimously approved a $77.1 million town budget recommended by the finance committee on Monday.

The budget includes a $28.1 million for the school department and $49 million for the municipal departments.

The school’s fiscal year 2017 operating budget is about $503,000 short of the school committee’s request, but $500,000 more than last year’s allocation.

Acting Superintendent of Schools Michael Hashem said the department has tried just about every cost containment possible since he stepped into the position, but it is still going to be short.

“I wanted to thank you for the additional funding,” Hashem said. “Do realize we’re going to have to make some efficiencies and cuts moving forward.”

The budget includes $6.4 million for the police, $4.7 million for the fire department and $4.3 million for the Department of Public Works. A $215,675 budget was approved for the Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Town Manager Scott Crabtree said he is hopeful they will hire a new economic development planner and coordinator soon to replace Robert Luongo, who resigned to work in another community.

“Robert did a fabulous job,” Crabtree said. “I did everything I could with offering him anything I could to keep him here.”

Luongo left the position for another closer to his home that pays more money and allows him to work with a staff of eight people, Crabtree said. Crabtree is hopeful the town will hire “an individual like Robert” but is also considering splitting the job into two different positions, at a lower rate for each.

“It’s been a challenge to bring someone in at his caliber, even at the amount that we budgeted,” he said. “It’s needed for Saugus and for our community.”

Town Meeting also approved an increase in water rates for next year. All money will go directly into a Water Enterprise Fund to be used exclusively for water expenses, maintenance, debt and interest and improvement programs.

We’re talking about raising water rates 9.5 percent,” said William Brown, Town Meeting member. “Last year, we had a 3 percent sewer increase. I’m not going to support it. This is too high. I don’t see the need for it.”

Crabtree said the rate was determined through a five-year analysis conducted by an outside party.

“The goal was to identify what rate needed to be charged to be able to generate enough revenue to pay for the operations of that enterprise,” Crabtree said.

A tiered system is used to determine a resident’s rate, Crabtree said. About 70 percent of residents fall in the first category, and will see an $8 increase on their bill twice a year. Second tier residents will see a $12 increase and commercial users will pay the bulk, he said.

Reluctant to raise the rate, Eugene Decareau, Town Meeting member, proposed an amendment for a 7.5 percent increase. But Steve DiVirgilio, a Town Meeting member, said approving the lower rate would be a mistake.

“The debt on these funds are enormous and continue to grow,” DiVirgilio said. “We need to invest in the capital and infrastructure. One of the reasons I keep on Town Meeting is I got the sense that financial decisions are being made with their hearts instead of their minds.”

Crabtree agreed, and urged Town Meeting to follow the recommendation of the finance committee.

“I want to make it clear, these are financial decisions, not emotional decisions,” Crabtree said. “If we vote a less rate than is required, you’re kicking it down the can. You will have to have a larger increase next year.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.