Debt Exclusion Special Election

A Town of Saugus special election has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 6th to decide whether or not the taxpayers will take on a twenty year debt exclusion tax rate increase with the intended use of the money being applied toward the building of a new elementary school to replace the now closed Veterans School. The election will run from noon to 8:00 PM at the normal precinct centers; note though that the hours the polls are open are more limited than they are for a full ordinary election.

Following we have arguments presented by supporters for each side of the debate. The arguments for the debt exclusion are presented by Steve Angelo, the Saugus Town Manager. The arguments against the debt exclusion are presented by Bob Hoffman, Saugus Town Meeting Member and the chairman of the Saugus Building Committee (the watchdog group that originally found and reported the problems in the old Veterans School). We at strongly encourage you to read both sides, cast your vote for whichever side you choose to support, and make your voice heard.

Arguments for the Debt Exclusion

Steve Angelo, Saugus Town Manager

There's nothing quite like being in the right place at the right time, and that's the enviable position in which the Town of Saugus is placed as its voters prepare to go to the polls next week on a debt exclusion proposal. Approval of the Proposition 21/2 ballot question is essential if the town is to receive 67% state funding for the needed replacement of the Veterans School. Right now there are ample funds in the state's school building assistance account to provide the money needed in Saugus. Next year that may not be true. Right now the town can enjoy priority over numerous other communities that are seeking state funds, but a few months from now that situation will be entirely different, and costs will be higher.

The Saugus School Committee and other town officials have performed admirably in a timely response to the emergency that arose a year ago. If voters endorse the debt exclusion proposal, a new school will be open by December of next year to accomodate 580 students now crammed into a middle school and the Senior Center Annex.

Approval of the ballot question is the most economical route for the town. The impact would be approximately $6 per quarter on the average ($170,000) assessment. And with this process the funds that are borrowed through a 20-year bond are expressly reserved for the specific school construction project, and cannot be used for anything else.

The few alternatives to bonding that have been suggested -- ranging from soliciting funds from businesses to substantial increases in water-sewer rates -- are impractical. And top financial experts strongly recommend the debt exclusion approach.

That's the best option, and the timing is right.

Arguments against the Debt Exclusion

Bob Hoffman, Saugus Building Committee Chairman

Proposition 21/2 was enacted into law to protect taxpayers from runaway government spending. It has forced each community to prioritize their spending needs, much like you and I who also must live within a budget.

Over the last 6 weeks I have waited for information to convince me why I should support a Debt Exclusion to fund the New Veterans School. I am convinced as I believe we all are, that a New Veterans School is necessary and will be built. What I am not convinced of is that raising property taxes outside the limit of Prop. 21/2 for the next 20 years is the way to accomplish this. Many questions remain unanswered although they have been asked repeatedly. Have alternative funding sources been explored? We as taxpayers are told our water and sewer rates are among the lowest on the North Shore. Why then can they not be raised so that the people that use the most pay the most?

Has there been any effort by the current Town Manager to tighten the belt on future town spending?

In the budget currently being reviewed by the Saugus Finance Committee for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 1999 the Town Manager has proposed the following raises be granted to these Department Heads:

Town Manager salary currently $75,000 increases to $80,000.
Town Accountant currently $47,361 increases to $55,021
Director of Operations $51,626 increases to $67,363

A good faith effort to the voters of Saugus could possibly have been to freeze all department head raises for one year while asking the taxpayers to just give a little more.

We have all been told that the debt exclusion will cost the average home owner $22.48 for the first year or $6 every quarter, which will raise the $260,000 needed to satisfy the payment on the debt.

The following years that $6 figure will substantially increase to be able to raise the $550,560 needed so that the projected debt will be paid.

Please remember your taxes will still continue to rise 21/2% plus growth on top of that $22.48 or whatever is needed to satisfy the debt.

To allow 21/2 to be overridden while the town has the ability to fund the New Veterans School within its own budget would be a travesty to the Taxpayers of the Town of Saugus.

The New Veterans School will be built with or without a Debt Exclusion. What is needed now is alternative plans, motivation, and dedication to accomplishing this task. What is not needed is continual threats to the community at large that without a debt exclusion the New Veterans School will not be built. If the current Town Manager can not display this creativity and motivation than maybe the Board of Selectmen should look elsewhere for your leadership.

A few thoughts to ponder as the debt exclusion election approaches:

  1. The polls are open from 12 noon to 8PM.
  2. It is important that your vote be cast.
  3. Saugus Town Budget for next year will increase $1.6 Million.
  4. Every Dept. Head is scheduled to receive a raise. Those vary in amounts from $149 to $15,737.
  5. Tappe Associates (the Architects of record) have received a no bid contract to design and build the new school. Tappe Associates fees are based on the total cost of the project. The more the new school will cost the more Tappe will receive.

Given all these facts have you been convinced by the Administration that a debt exclusion is the only alternative the town has?


The unofficial results of the election have been tabulated. About 56.8% of the votes were "yes", about 42.8% were "no", and about 0.4% were left blank.
Precinct Yes No Blank Votes Total Votes
1 200 120 1 321
2 225 95 1 321
3 191 145 0 336
4 162 113 0 275
5 203 156 0 359
6 305 143 2 450
7 107 188 1 296
8 150 130 0 280
9 136 144 0 280
10 154 149 7 310
Totals 18331383123228