Residents express opinions on override ahead of Town Meeting

Marblehead’s Abbot Hall. Photo by Spenser Hasak

The fate of the town’s financial status for the foreseeable future will be addressed at the upcoming Annual Town Meeting, as residents will vote on the heavily-discussed $2.5 million override that, if passed, would add an average of $322.10 in taxes to single-family homes.

For months, town officials, committee members, and concerned residents have been discussing, debating, and arguing for and against the override.

From conversations the Weekly News had with residents on the streets of Marblehead, many are interested in the effects the override could have on the town.

This year, the school budget was added to the town budget and is subsequently a part of the town override. Celeste Ignacio, a former school teacher, is for the override in order to help educate students in Marblehead Public Schools.

“If you think of it that way, it comes down to about a dollar a day that we’re asking to have kids educated,” she said. 

Others, like eight-year-resident Charles Milner, don’t have a strong opinion on the override. Milner said that he is currently leaning towards supporting it. 

“I’ve seen what real estate values have done, which is increase 50 percent. And I would have assumed that real estate tax revenues would have increased in line with that, but I don’t think they have,” Milner said. “We may be keeping real estate taxes low, but if that means we’re cheating on that, I’d rather do what the override is going to do even if it’s going to cost me money.”

Some oppose Milner’s view. Long-time Marblehead resident Paul Philips said he would not like to see the override become permanent.

“They need to override to balance their books but if they want something permanent, they can go to Hell in a handbag. They’re not going to get that out of me,” Phillips said. “If they’re thinking of making it permanent, no. I’d vote that down in a minute.”

One resident who wished to remain anonymous said he simply does not want to spend more at his age. 

“I’m 85 years old, I don’t need to be spending all the extra money,” he said. 

Another resident, who also wished to remain anonymous, expressed displeasure with the school budget being added to the town budget. He believes that the school and town budgets should be separate, and with the school override failing to pass last year, he said the only way it could be approved is if it is lumped in with the town budget.

“I don’t like the idea of putting the school and the government in the same bin. They obviously did it because they were afraid the school wouldn’t get anything,” he said. “Maybe they don’t deserve it if that’s the case.”

Town Meeting begins on Monday, May 1 at 7 p.m. at Veterans Middle School. The town budget and override will be presented under Articles 30 and 31 respectively. If Article 31 passes at Town Meeting, it will be put on the town’s election ballot in June, where residents will vote to determine if it goes into effect.