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Winchester To Go Forward With Cuts After Failed Override

With the failed $1.44 million override, Winchester faces a $728K budget gap for 2012, which will increase to $1.5 million in 2013 and to $2.5 million by 2014.

It wasn’t the outcome Senior Management, the and the School Committee were hoping for. Residents who headed to the polls on Tuesday narrowly voted to defeat the , 2,045 to 1,810.

For 2012, Winchester is going to use $1.48 million of free cash, but with the failed override, the town will need to cut the That budget gap is expected to grow in 2013 to $1.5 million and to $2.5 million by 2014.

“It’s disappointing,” said Acting Town Manager Mary Ellen Lannon of the failed override. “We put in a lot of work for this three-year plan. But the important thing is, we gave it to the voters and gave them the right to choose.”

The Board of Selectmen, along with Lannon and Assistant Town Manager Mark Twogood, put together a list of items that would need to be cut over the next three years if an override failed. According to Thomas Howley, chair of the Board of Selectmen, there could be reductions in the , personnel and services over the next three years.

The and Advanced Life Support ambulance will regularly be out of service. The school crossing guard program will most likely be eliminated. Reductions in the Library budget will mean the loss of its book borrowing privileges. The DPW could lose custodians, mechanics and field maintenance personnel and Town Hall services will be cut.

“We now need to go forward with the necessary cuts,” said Selectman Forrest Fontana. “There’s no magic bullet, we can’t pull any rabbit out of a hat in terms of the cuts. We’re just going to have to be as transparent as we can be in terms of what will services will be impacted.”

The schools will also be affected by this decision. The School Department and had previously stated that a failed override could force the department tos in 2012 and nearly 30 over the next three years.

“We’re now going to need to go ahead and make these difficult cuts,” Lannon said. “I’m just a little taken aback that we didn’t get the full support of the community.”

But Fontana is confident that the town will be able to handle these cuts and continue to maintain a sufficient quality of life for the citizens in Winchester.

“This is going to be difficult, but we need everybody to collectively work together to solve these problems,” Fontana said. “We need everyone to be part of the solution and not be divisive.”

Preceinct Yes No Blank 1 235 286 17 2 115 197 4 3 350 235 16 4 289 288 15 5 232 253 19 6 212 277 21 7 270 262 14 8 107 247 11 Total 1,810 2,045 117
WinchesterResident April 01, 2011 at 01:37 PM
In response to Tim - we are ALL responsible for safe driving, and that's a completely separate issue. However, when you decide to have a kid, you take responsibility for their safety. So, when you talk about the town getting sued because a kid gets hit - WHERE WERE THE PARENTS??? Why do we, as a society, keep shifting parental responsibilities to the community? You choose to have children, you are responsible to get them to school safely - whether you decide you drive them to school, walk them, or whatever you think is best. If you think it's OK to have them walk to school unaccompanied, that's a choice YOU - not the town - made. What if my dog gets hit by a car, should there be guards around to make sure my dog doesn't get out? Should I sue the town? I know this is going to raise all sorts of eyebrows and screaming and wailing but... it's the same concept. I get a dog, I am responsible for its safety. I get a child, I am responsible for his or her safety. And that includes what happens on their way to school.
Harry C. April 01, 2011 at 02:20 PM
I am not saying it is right to sue the town, I'm just telling you that is what will happen. Your dog analogy is deeply flawed, by the way. Children are required, by law, to attend those schools. Last time I checked, dogs are not required to attend. If children are required by law to attend those schools there should be some level of protecttion afforded their safe travel, wouldn't you agree? Is it unreasonable to expect the police to enforce safety laws at the crosswalks where our most vunerable residents cross? I am sure most parents would like to take their children to school every day but that is unrealistic and would compound the traffic issue and increase the dangers to pedestrians. And I beg to differ with your remark that safe driving is a completely different issue. In fact that IS the issue. If the drivers obeyed the crosswalk laws we wouldn't need crossing guards...but they don't. If you doubt that, come and look at the intersection I refer to any school day. In answer to your question "WHERE WERE THE PARENTS???" I would suggest they are at work, trying to earn enough money to pay their taxes.
WinchesterResident April 01, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Well, similarly, I think your argument about children being required to attend school is flawed. Nobody is required to have children if they cannot do basic things such as take them to school etc. But that's just for argument's sake - I am not advocating that. I think we need to keep law enforcement separate from crosswalk guards; they are not law enforcement. If people are speeding down the intersection, they should be fined. But there is no need to pay someone to sit in front of traffic light and let people cross when there is a red light. In fact, that teaches children a wrong lesson: don't worry about traffic lights, you can cross whenever you feel like it.
Harry C. April 01, 2011 at 03:37 PM
You seem unclear on the crossing area I refer to. There are no solid light traffic signals at the intersection of Main & Washington. I agree with you that children should learn to cross at the light, when there is a walk signal. But the traffic lights at the junction of Washington & Main do not have that set up. Probably they should but they don't. There is one stop sign only. The speed limit is 30 mph and with cars parked on both sides it is hard for drivers to even see the smaller children. This is just a basic safety issue. It does not affect me directly, since my son is older, but I do see the danger in the current situation.
WinchesterResident April 01, 2011 at 05:23 PM
I see what you're saying - and yes, I don't really know exactly which intersection you are referring to - but it sounds like that's definitely something the town should look at and fix it. The reason for my frustration is that in my horrendous morning communte there are 2 areas (neither in Winchester, by the way), where I have a VERY short green light, and I often get stopped by a crossing guard who - despite the pedestrians having a red light, and independently of the age of the pedestrian - stops the entire traffic, let's them go - and by the time that's happened, I'm back in the red light. Sometimes for multiple cycles! And my perspective on that is - 1) there is a traffic light and people should just follow it and not need a guard and 2) the guard him/herself should FOLLOW the light and instruct people to cross when the light has turned green in their favor, rather than assume that pedestrians have the right to go at any time, independently of the traffic light. But it sounds like what you are referring to is a specific case which warrants its own attention. My comment is just more general.

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