Op-Ed: To fund or not to fund. Is that really the question?
By Peter A. Napolitano, Councilor at Large, City Council President
It’s that time of the year again. Budget time. Time to chart the financial future of the City of Everett for the next year and beyond. Decisions will be made that affect the lives of our residents and businesses in many different ways. The annual budget hearings will weigh the costs of educating our children, maintaining city properties, repairing of our streets, protecting our neighborhoods, and providing basic human services. How and why your tax dollars are spent is a very complex formula but it all comes down to the same thing every year, wants versus needs.
The perception in Everett is that we are rolling in dough due to the Casino, but the Casino is not open yet. The City’s financial experts have been warning City Government that the next couple of years are going to be difficult. City revenues are up but the big money from the Casino and associated growth is still two years away. Additionally, the State has cut back on educational funding two years in a row. Changes to the formula have been led by our own Senator Sal DiDomenico but we will not see the results of those efforts this year. Meanwhile the business of the City still needs to be funded through the same traditional sources. We need to focus on the essentials to ensure that all our needs keep pace at the same quality until June 2019 when the Casino opens. Some items like education cannot be allowed to be rolled back until then. Considering the demographics of our city, many of our children could easily fall through the cracks. These children rely on the quality of our education system to go on to higher learning. Many of our teachers, police, firemen, attorneys, business owners, elected officials and many more are proof of the value of investing in education. Just as yesterday’s youths are today’s leaders, today’s youths need the tools, education and inspiration to be tomorrow’s leaders.
Everett is no longer a small industrial town enjoying the tax revenues and jobs of big business. For years we have struggled to maintain the quality of our services with the loss of those businesses and we will continue to struggle for the next two years. Capital improvements need to be prioritized to address the projects that need immediate action. Other wants need to be held off until increased revue from the Encore Boston Harbor Casino and associated projects in the soon to be entertainment district bear fruit. Laying off any employees while projects continue that are not critical diminishes the quality of the services we easily take for granted and diminishes us as a community. As we start the Budget process, the old tensions among our business partners are back making this process more difficult. We involved in the budget process need to look past those tensions and focus on what is best for the entire city. There are no us & them, only one community with one goal, a better Everett for all its residents. Thank you.