Budget, May events
THIS weekend is action-packed in Newton--there’s the Multicultural festival →
Also May 7, you can walk Upper Falls history 1-3 pm
And don’t forget the outdoor pop-up market in the parking lot of Dunn-Gaherin’s while you’re in the neighborhood!
ALSO--there’s Taiwan Day in the Highlands:
Starting at 11 am Saturday, with a Dragon Dance at Lincoln and Bowdoin St, continuing down Lincoln, which will be briefly blocked off to traffic and ending at the Hyde Center, 90 Lincoln Street, Newton Highlands. Performances at the Hyde Playground continue until 4 pm.
Finally, the Newton Neighbors Diaper Drive is in full swing; if you want to donate, a great way is via their Amazon Wish List.
May is budget season, which provides a way to reflect on all the good things that our Newton government delivers to residents.
Schools, of course, are the biggest piece of the budget, and rightfully so--they are the future of our city, state, and country. More children should have the benefits of a school system like Newton’s that nurtures and prepares them for life in college or in a vocation as well as citizens of the world.
This year’s budget gap of about $2 million in the school department is painful, but inflation and the need to retain our teachers will mean that next year we will face a similar gap--unless we find new revenue. In municipal government, particularly in Massachusetts under Proposition 2.5, which limits the tax levy increase to 2.5%, money is always tight unless there is lots of growth or tax overrides.
Council’s responsibility, however, is the municipal side of the budget. Here are some of the details that I found interesting:
Our library--is growing its e-book collection and adding personalized recommendations for readers. Outdoor seating is being expanded for those who want fresh air with their WIFI. And those solar carports over the parking lot are providing the equivalent of 40% of the library’s electricity.
Senior Services has really rolled with COVID’s punches this year, delivering food, companionship, mobility and programs with a slim crew of dedicated staff and volunteers.
Health & Human Services covers school nurses, public health and also the Community Crisis Intervention Team in partnership with the schools and police to help with increased mental health and substance abuse needs. They also deliver food--and I was struck by this graph: It’s a little hard to read, but it shows that children’s meals now drive demand at the grab & go meal sites. I guess the better news is that there are fewer people needing this food now than this time last year.
Newton is seeing a steady increase in building and other permits--last year up over 4,000, along with 67 demolitions. But this year we should finally get additional staff to conduct inspections.
Newton itself is building--and doing a better job of preventative maintenance and energy conservation as it does. This year the city is on track to wrap up the early childhood building on Albemarle, start the Lincoln-Eliot school at 150 Jackson Road, and some additional solar projects. New projects include schools (Countryside, Horace Mann and Franklin), a new Gath pool, NewCAL, and extensive repairs to police headquarters.
And there's more budget review to come...
Northland: According to the contractors, at this month’s liaison committee meeting, neighbors will see some work on the site soon, including excavating along Oak St. to underground wires and demolition of the structures in the former shopping mall. You can keep abreast of the details here.
The Mass Housing Partnership has published a list of common misconceptions about the MBTA Communities Law, for those of you wanting to know more about this Zoning law.
Swimming season starts June 13--you can purchase your membership for Gath Pool and Crystal lake here. Swimming lesson sign ups open May 16th.