SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – The Committee to Elect Benjamin W. Tartaglia announces Mr. Tartaglia will seek election to the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen (BOS) at the Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 town election. He stated, “The 2014 election is critical. Soon, voters will decide on a permanent, multi-million-dollar prop 2-1/2 operational override. Their decision will set the direction Shrewsbury will take to resolve our structural spending deficit. The voters will say to the Board of Selectmen either ‘Make the difficult decisions needed to bring our spending into line with our expected revenues.’ Or! ‘Continue approving unsustainable budget expenditures and multi-million-dollar permanent Operational Proposition 2-1/2 Overrides to cover our budget deficits’. I believe Shrewsbury officials are good, well-meaning people who care deeply about our town. They have, however, decided to throw in the towel on sustainable budgets and manage by permanent overrides. I want to return to the Board of Selectmen and work towards sustainable budgets for our wonderful town.”
I have great respect for the other candidates and the Board of Selectmen. Their dedication and intentions are of the best. The current Chairman of the Board, Mr. Fitzgerald, has publically stated his support for a $5,000,000 Prop 2-1/2 permanent annual tax increase override. He made his support known before the budget was finalized, giving the green light for unsustainable budget requests. Mr. DePalo, the longest serving member of the board, has supported several overrides in the past. Mr. DePalo, and BOS members agree a permanent proposition 2-1/2 multi-million dollar operational override WILL NOT SOLVE SHREWSBURY’S STRUCTURAL SPENDING PROBLEM. And yet, he, Mr. Fitzgerald and the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen support such an override.
I still believe in the motto; “Living Within Our Means”. Although some officials believe to live within our means is out-of-fashion, I believe it is more important today than ever before. Our families must live within our means. Our small business owners must live within their means. Our senior citizens must live within their declining means. I believe the Town and the Schools should live within their means just like our families. I believe we can live within our means by modifying our fiscal revenue and spending policies and boldly face our challenges head-on.
The new school contract recently approved by the School Committee and the administration is reported to add over $1 million to the school operating expenses for next year. We now know there are new huge fee increases coming. Water and sewer rates will soar again. New mandated water and sewer regulations will force higher rates similar to those we recently experienced.
We are just starting to feel the tax increases from the new middle school. In a few years the taxes to pay for the new library will begin. Demolition and rebuilding of Beal School is still on the table as is a new Police Station. Natural gas prices for heating and electricity generation have begun to rise sharply, adding new pressures for home owners and town operating expenses. Gasoline prices and taxes have risen adding to the transportation burden forced upon taxpayers. Many families have seen a decrease in household incomes. Some are facing foreclosures. Others are seeing increases in healthcare expenses. Again, Seniors on fixed income, young struggling families and our neighbors of modest means are getting hurt the hardest.
My experiences as a Selectman, Town Meeting Member, Chair of Seniors for Responsible Taxation (SRT), 30 years serving in management for both for-profit and non-profit corporations, consulting, and owning small businesses, and growing up working in a family business, have given me a unique perspective. My many years of watching the budget process and evaluating proposed overrides, led me to believe a Prop 2-1/2 PERMANENT Operational Override is unnecessary. The Board of Selectmen, the Town Administration, the School Committee, the School administration and the unelected Finance Committee, ALL have voiced support for a Prop 2-1/2 Permanent, Operational Override, even though it will not work and will make things worse.”
Mr. Tartaglia, a former Selectman and current Town Meeting Member, has been active as an advocate for responsible revenue and spending policies for many years. He was the founding Chairman of Seniors for Responsible Taxation (SRT), an advocacy group for those hurt most by irresponsible taxes and fees, such as senior citizens, young families and those of modest means. He has hosted over 50 public access television shows on town government, is an active participant at public hearings and a critic of some Board of Selectmen financial policies. He has an MBA and a BS in Industrial Management, 30 years as a professional manager, responsible for multi-million dollar budgets. He has taught management courses at local colleges. Ben and his wife Lillian of 49 years have lived and paid taxes in Shrewsbury for 40 years, where their children attended public school. He stated: “I pledge to work with the Board and other town officials towards a four-point plan which will improve our structural spending problem.
(1) Reopen negotiations between the School Administration and the respective unions.
(2) The School Committee and the School Administration should limit Contract annual increases, including step increases, to the average of the prior three years’ cost of living index. Remember, 75% of the School Budget is for salaries, not including health insurance which is also paid by the town.
(3) For the next three years, replacement positions for teachers and other school employees should be without benefits. Since every benefitted employee costs the town $12,000/year in health insurance premiums, this point alone would save $240,000 each year.
(4) Instead of hiring more administrators, pay the best teachers a $5,000 stipend to be a “Coordinator” and eliminate the proposed respective administrators. This would save $75,000 per coordinator per year, $260,000 in administrator expenses and eliminate potential insurance and out-costs for after retirement. The next several years will be challenging. I want to be your voice on the Board of Selectmen and help Shrewsbury meet the challenges.” I realize my suggestions are open to criticism. But, at least I put them out there. There are board members with many more years of experience than I, but the only solution proposed by them is a Permanent Multi-Million-Dollar Proposition 2-1/2 Operational Override, that won’t fix the problem. I ask you, How’s all that experience going for you?”.
“I ask for your vote on Tuesday May 6th to put balance back on the Board.”
If you need more information, want to comment, volunteer to help or donate, you can phone Ben Tartaglia at his campaign office, 508-845-6000 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can be made out to: Committee to Elect Ben Tartaglia, and mailed to: Committee to Elect Ben Tartaglia, 19 Kenilworth Road, Shrewsbury MA 01545. Attention: Mr. Fritz Bauer, Treasurer.