Mutter says ‘nothing to show’ for town budget increases

Mutter says ‘nothing to show’ for town budget increases

Murray: Most went to schools; town’s in great shape

CUMBERLAND – Mayoral challenger Jeff Mutter is suggesting that Mayor Bill Murray “has nothing to show” for the town’s overall budget increase of about $10 million over the past three years.

“We’ve added this money to our budget, but we can’t take care of our seniors, we can’t take care of our youth, we can’t even take care of our animals,” Mutter said in a release. “This is unacceptable.”

Mutter, a former school board chairman and council president, was referencing issues with the town’s senior center, animal shelter, and recreation center.

Murray, responding to Mutter, told The Breeze that he thought his challenger had a better understanding of town finances.

“The School Committee has continuously called for more school funding. The increase in the budget includes $8.2 million to support our education system and $1.9 million for all other town services,” he said. “Also, through my initiative, an additional $9 million has been approved for school renovations.”

The town’s financial rating has never been better, said Murray, with an AA+ rating from Standard & Poor’s. The agency’s March report indicated that the town has strong financial controls, with a surplus well exceeding required levels. This has been while keeping tax increases to a minimum, said the mayor, or 21 cents in four years, while continuing to improve services and saving money, “something I plan to continue during my term over the next two years.”

Responding to Murray’s comment about his alleged lack of understanding, Mutter retorted, “I would have thought the mayor would have been able to get the tax levy right the last two years as well.”

The mayor’s ability to keep taxes down has been supported by $7 million in surplus spending, said Mutter.

“It’s a question of sustainability,” he said. The town can’t sustain that level of surplus spending, and it can’t live with the inaction on a new senior center, a new recreation building, or other needed facilities, he said.

The issue of sustainable budgeting, said Mutter, is the crux of this mayoral campaign. The town added new rescues and approved other capital improvements after the budget season, then pushed the “credit card” payment on them off until 2020, he said.

Lincoln has been using no surplus funds and has accomplished much of what Cumberland has failed to do while increasing its budget by only $3 million, said Mutter. That town built a new senior center and expanded its animal shelter.

“Lincoln has accomplished those things and has kept their tax rate pretty much under control as well,” he said.

Murray this summer announced a merger agreement with Lincoln where Cumberland will pay $1,000 each month to house animal control operations at the Lincoln center.

Mutter said he’s not arguing about where Murray has sent the increased funds, but questions what the mayor will do now that he can’t keep spending surplus money.

“What is the plan going forward when he has had that kind of increase in spending?” he said.

Murray said Mutter offers plenty of criticism, but has yet to offer his own solutions.

“Does he have a plan of how to do it?” Murray said. “If Mr. Mutter has a plan, we haven’t heard it.”

Mutter can compare Cumberland to Lincoln all he wants, but the fact is that Cumberland doesn’t have the gambling facility Lincoln has that enabled that town to build a new senior center, said Murray.

Also lost on Mutter, said the mayor, is the fact that the Town Council has added money to his budgets requiring the taking of additional surplus funds.

“We’re still in excellent shape,” he said, noting that Cumberland still has an $11 million surplus, well exceeding the requirement of $7.7 million.

“We absolutely have a plan moving forward,” he said, emphasizing that the town is ending the 2017-2018 year with another surplus, its fourth in a row.

Mutter said the mayor is ignoring the needs of the residents, saying in his release that the “community deserves better.”

Comments

Once again, the schools are taking up the lion's share of the funding increases. It will surely only get worse under Mutter if he's elected. The Breeze should write an article about how many $100,000+ salary employees the schools have (I think it's around 15) vs. how many the Town has (0).

I am amused how someone can hide and not reveal who they really are, I guess it is easier to make assumptions and criticize blindly. Cumbytown our next School Committee meeting is TONIGHT, we have a public comment section. Please show up and share your concern on public record and I would love to answer any question you may have that reflects your silly content in your post! Have a great day! Or call me- Ray Salvatore - 401-477-9737. School Committee Chairperson.

Worse? It's crazy to refer to increased school funding as making them worse. The only thing more expensive than funding education is to not fund education. When you're at or near the bottom in school funding (per pupil), I don't see how anyone can complain about increased investment in education.

Cumbytown you really should go back and look at the town council video where the Mayor Murray's school funding task force (that was not open to the public) got up at the town council meeting and stated that the CUMBERLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS were at the bottom of the barrel for school funding in the state and when compared to the Mayoral Academies, the public schools had LESS administrators that the new charter system.

The task force could not come up with any problems to criticize the way the public school system was being run.

How many at BVP are paid over $100k?

At least the Cumberland Public Schools are REQUIRED to present a budget for approval by the town council and mayor.

I agree with Mr.Salvatore come to our meetings and speak during public comment. Show yourself.

I also had to laugh when I saw Mayor Murray taking credit for the $9 million in school renovations.

First off Mayor Murray does not approve spending in this town, it is the town council. We can't even get the tax levy correct!

Second, it was the school business manager who for years urged the town council to adopt some type of spending for school repairs while waiting out having bond money available after the town pays down outstanding bond obligations.

It was the town council that was receptive to doing these school repairs. It was councilor Bradley that urged fellow members to use fund balance to fix the McCourt parking lot.

If the town only needs $7.7 million dollars for a healthy surplus amount then why hasn't the mayor suggested they repair the animal control building, diamond hill ski lodge or the senior center? It is not like the town does not have the money. The mayors math shows the town has $3.3 million in excess surplus funds.

Paul DiModica

The facts stand. I never said BVP doesn't spend too much. They do. I'm more concerned with the fact that the school department spends too much on non-core issues like a pool, tractor, PR firm. That money should be spent on teachers and students.

Ladies and Gentlemen. I'm a little confused. If Mr Mutter believes that an 8.2 million dollars increase to the school budget and we have "nothing to show for it", is he requesting an audit of the school dept books? Or accountability from the school dept? Or is he stating that the Mayor is responsible for the increase in the school Budget.

1.Ray, enough with the cyberbullying. Plenty of folks on here have usernames that aren't their own so leave Cumbytown be. There's a ton of crazy people out there and not everyone feels safe using their real name. I do but I'm crazy. Two, I agree, putting tax dollars towards the schools is a good investment whether you have a student in the schools or are a homeowner, strong schools are good for the town. I attended public schools and went to Bridgewater State College so I applaud our educators and support them. 3. Other town departments have seen flat funding or very small increases. Props to our DPW making due with very little increase in their overall budget. I think the point here is the schools need to have a bit of austerity mindset like our DPW. Asking for more funding is fine, spending it effectively is key! 5. I think we have two great candidates for mayor. I know Mutter and he's a great candidate and I think Murray has done a good job overall as well. I think it's a win-win and an exciting election. 6. I have a man-cold and I'm not happy about it.

I believe Mr. Mutter is saying both.

The big difference is Mr. Mutter has the experience in bringing vision. He wants more vision between the Town and School Department.

The current leadership for the Schools is at the best place for this moment.

Mr. Mutter isn't a "my way or the highway" type of leader. He will bring vision and consensus.

Mr. Mutter isn't a "I dont care about you" leader. Everyone is welcomed in his camp, you dont even have to agree with him 100%, just be willing to work towards the solution.

Give him a call.

Mutter camp should be careful with how they criticize here.

“Nothing to show” from 10m in increases when 8.5m went to schools does not not seem to be the message he wants to be sending 4 weeks out.

The issue here is that it seems that the (current leadership) of the schools and MR Mutter are a close knit group. Be honest Why do you think that they are looking for 4 year terms? Hint! So they can dump as much money into the schools as possible in that time. Vision = TAXES. The red flag goes up for me where he is getting his campaign contributions from .

Thanks for trying to explain Bruce. I agree with New Resident. This is not the topic the Mutter camp should be questioning. Can we assume any school dept increase under his administration will require much more scrutiny than Mayor Murray has required before giving them 8.5 million?

How about a debate between the two candidates rather than dueling comments in the Breeze?

I agree, there should be a public debate for a mayoral candidacy. The CHS auditorium would be a good venue.