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In a speech before Newton’s Board of Aldermen last night Mayor Setti Warren unveiled his third budget last night and reminded us of how grim things were when he was elected back in 2009..

When I campaigned for Mayor back in 2009, I saw a city that was not living up to its full potential and in troubled financial waters. We were a community divided with no clear financial path for the future, drawing down on its “capital stabilization fund” and not building any reserves. Expenditures in health care and compensation were out-pacing revenue growth at a 4.4% expenditure rate and 2.5% revenue growth. This resulted in layoffs of positions the city and schools needed and an erosion of the quality of services across the board.

Our city had not assessed our municipal buildings in many years and did not have a comprehensive capital plan that included and prioritized all of its infrastructure. As a result Newton had not been investing properly in maintenance and infrastructure over time which was costing residents millions of dollars.

Our city did not have accountability or performance measures in place so that we had a pathway to improve the quality of our city services

And our city was not proactive in promoting robust economic development where we could to improve the quality of life in Newton as well as increase our tax base.

And then it was time for the good news: Among other things, Warren’s fiscal 2013 budget avoids layoffs, adds arts and counseling staff back the schools. It provides funds to repairs pipes and the sewers. There’s even money to maintain the Garden City’s trees.

Oh and Moodys likes us. Newton is still a safe place to live. We’ve instituted a new performance management system. And we’ll have a plan for fixing our infrastructure before you can say “Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Elect Joe Kennedy.”

Woo-hoo! These are good times!

Of course, being a pragmatic fellow , Mayor Warren reminded us of this…

With all of the great progress that has been made in the last two years, we know we have tremendous challenges ahead. Our growing student population, increasing traffic and the need to catch up on many years of deferred maintenance of our buildings and infrastructure is what we must meet head on.

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