Letter: Friedmann Asks Voters for a Yes on Override

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As a member of the town’s Board of Selectmen, I have attended many meetings regarding the town’s budget and learned that our town is facing significant financial shortfalls, in large part due to rising health care costs for town and school employees that outpace our revenues. To address the shortfalls, the Board of Selectmen has proposed a $4.15 million operational override that will be on the ballot this upcoming election, April 3. This amount allows the town to “override” the annual 2.5% increase in tax revenue permitted by State law. Unlike recent overrides in town that funded building projects (renovation of the high school and library), the money proposed in the current override will be used to help fund town and school operations. Reading’s last passed an operational override 15 years ago, while neighboring towns comparable to Reading typically have overrides every 5 to 7 years. We are overdue.

A successful override will allow us to hire much needed public safety personnel. While Reading’s population has steadily grown, our police force has not. Police and fire officials are a bit like collective parents. They come into our homes and ease family tensions that get out of hand and tend us when we are sick and in need of emergency medical care. Their resources are stretched thin because officers and firefighters are spending an increasing amount of time on many of these calls. We need enough firefighters to cover those who have wrenched a knee while carrying a fellow resident down a flight of stairs, and enough police officers to provide sufficient back-up so fellow officers have the necessary down-time to shed the stress associated with the job.

This override will allow us to reinvest in our schools and maintain the outstanding reputation earned by the Reading Public School System. We will be able to backfill teacher positions that have been cut during the past several years, keep classroom sizes manageable, and continue to offer essential curriculum such as middle school foreign language. Strong schools lead to a safer community and make Reading a desirable place to live, thus maintaining our property values.

School and town staff, your elected officials, and a small army of volunteers have done their best to provide information that clearly describes how an additional $4.15 million of your tax dollars will be spent. A homegrown municipal ballot question committee, Yes For Reading, has set up an informational website at https://www.yesforreading.com/. Soon the town website will also have information on the override. Please take the time to look over the information and then come out and vote “yes” on April 3rd.

Andrew Friedmann
27 Hillcrest Road


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