I'm a strong supporter of both rebuilding Arlington High School and the operating override on the ballot on June 11. This post is focused on Question 2, the $5.5 million operating override.
The operating override is vital for the town to maintain our current level of services, from our public schools to public safety to our town infrastructure, and more.
The town's property tax revenue increases are limited by state law to 2.5% per year. (There are more details to this state law, known as Proposition 2.5, but I'm skipping them for brevity.) The town's expenses grow faster than 2.5% — salaries, health care, and other expenses all average higher that 2.5% in the long run. And, our student population has grown at twice that rate — 27% over the last ten years.
This isn't a new problem. Arlington has been managing it for more than a decade by making infrequent tax increases and through careful spending. Our system is the envy of the state, with town officials from all over the Commonwealth asking our finance team how we do it.
In 2006 we passed a tax override with a promise to not increase taxes for 5 years — we made it 6 years. In 2011 we promised no overrides for 3 years, and we made it 8 years. This year, we are making a 4-year commitment to no additional operating tax overrides. We have a strong record of good financial planning and meeting our commitments.
This tax override will rebuild our savings and allow us to maintain our services for another four years. Without this override, service cuts are inevitable. Please join me in voting YES for the override and for the new Arlington High School.
Dan Dunn is Co-Chair of Build Arlington’s Future and Vice Chair of the Arlington Select Board