Fiscal Impact: Schools, Infrastructure and Services

Newton is sorely in need of new revenue. We have more than $1 Billion in unfunded liabilities, primarily pension and retiree health benefit costs. The “Yes” web site tells us that “Newton will collect $1.1 million in new net tax revenue each year.” It would certainly be wonderful if that turned out to be true. But there’s no reason to believe that estimate.

  •  The Northland plan is very large and it is unique. Projects that are large and unique are notorious for having different financial impacts than were predicted, usually in a negative direction. There are simply too many uncertainties and unknowns. For example, the Big Dig was estimated at $2.6 Billion, but ended up at $15 Billion (plus billions more on the debt). Northland will not be immune from cost overruns and once developed, the complex will generate unanticipated expenses.
  •  The costs of policing, fire protection, water and sewer, and many other services and infrastructure will remain and probably increase over the years as the new property ages. Will the new tax revenue be more than the city’s expenses? We do not know.
  • People move to Newton for our schools. (Northland proposes to build 139 units, which will of course include families with children) We want to welcome our new students, but “welcome” means having the money to fund quality education for them, and indeed for all our students. Even a small error in the estimates makes a big difference. The full cost per pupil, according to is $20,752.At this point, we cannot accept that this project will be financially good for us. It is not a valid argument for voting Yes.