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Letter to the Editor: State Rep. Has a 'Lack of Understanding of our Budget Needs'

Selectman and state representative candidate Daniel Bennett writes to criticize a statement by the sitting state representative that $100,000 in extra money to cover busing costs for homeless students is hitting the jackpot.

To the Editor:

In July, Ted Speliotis told the press that “Danvers had hit the jackpot” with the fiscal 2013 budget. He went on to say that it had “over $100,000 in extra money for the town.”

I'm not sure if Ted knows what a jackpot is.

He was referring to the money Danvers was given to offset the cost of transporting homeless kids back to their home communities. However, it has cost the town more than $275,000 in the last two years just in busing costs alone.

This does not cover the additional cost to the School Department for teaching   students. Granted they have been able to accommodate these 97 kids within the budget, but it is obvious that it required a lot of shifting and balancing in our schools. Also the added time for the school nurses to verify health records for the kids.

Then we have the burden on an understaffed police department with all the calls to the motels with the homeless families.  Add in the extra work for our fire personnel in performing numerous safety checks at the motels.

In June, the homeless count was 138 families and as I write the number is 191, which is costing the taxpayers over $5.5 million this year alone in rent money.

If local aid to Danvers was level funded from the 2009 level, we would have received an additional $5 million in local aid from the state. Now that is a jackpot!

To say Danvers has hit the jackpot shows a lack of understanding of our budget needs.

Our school budget alone is over $33 million dollars and $100,000 represents .03% of this budget.

The real shame is that for three years the state has housed these families in one or two rooms with no stove and no play area. How dare the state treat these families this way!

Daniel Bennett

Member, Board of Selectman

Republican Candidate for State Representative

Danvers

Sean Ward September 24, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Treat these families this way? In western MA low income housing developments with market rents around $500 list vacancy rates of 20 - 40%. These families know about it but they have found a loophole. Be "homeless" and you get to send your kids to schools in communities that most people worked hard to settle in without paying taxes. They are not as dumb as you might think. I worked hard, bought a house here, and pay a pile of real estate tax so I could send my kids to school here. They don't work, bought nothing, and pay nothing. Who's dumb now?

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