2015-2016 LWV Newton Program

The following Positions Program was approved by the LWVN membership at the 2015 Annual Meeting.

City Government

Charter

Support of an adequately paid mayor who shall, by Charter provision, devote full time to his office.

Support of a four-year term for Mayor.

Support a strong mayoral form of government (adopted 2010).

Support the practice of allowing the Mayor’s appointment of department heads and members of multiple member bodies to become effective unless rejected by the Board of Aldermen.

Support the present practice of allowing the Mayor to dismiss department heads without the approval of the Board of Aldermen.

Support the formal creation of the position of Citizen Assistance Officer.

Support of a special election to fill a vacancy in the office of Mayor unless the vacancy occurs within the last nine months of his term.

Support of a nine-member School Committee, with eight members elected at large, one to reside in each ward, with the Mayor serving ex-officio.

Support abolishing School Committee term limits (adopted 2010).

Support of four-year staggered terms for School Committee and Board of Aldermen (amended 2010).

Support of special elections to fill vacancies in the Board of Aldermen and School Committee unless the vacancy occurs in the last nine months of the term, in which case it should be left vacant.

Support the implementation and regular updating of the Newton Comprehensive Plan (amended 2010).

Support the adoption of a Capital Improvement Program by resolution of the Board of Aldermen.

Support the provision in Newton’s governmental structure for free petition and initiative and referendum procedures.

Support the reduction of the size of the Board of Aldermen with a mix of at-large and district representation or with at-large representatives with residency requirement (amended 2010).

Support elimination of 2% charter maintenance provision for schools (adopted 2010).

Support the removal of the Charter provision for Neighborhood Area Councils (adopted 2010). (removed 2015)

Administration

Support an administrative code that clearly delineates the function and responsibility of city departments and outlines the qualifications for department heads (adopted 2010).

Executive

Support the position of a CAO [chief administrative officer], appointed by and reporting directly to the Mayor. This position shall be appointed on the basis of education, training and experience in the accepted competencies and practices of local government management. A contract is desirable to insure some job security and independence (adopted 2010).

Support the requirement that the Executive Branch submit timely, periodic long-range financial plans, and long-range strategic capital plans (adopted 2010).

Support the development and implementation of a personnel evaluation plan under the Executive Branch (by ordinance, not the charter) (adopted 2010).

Fiscal Policy

Support of equitable assessment procedures and practices.

Support of minimum standards for the qualification of Newton assessors, with emphasis on experience and professional training.

Support of flexible methods of taxation between different classes of real estate property in Newton.

Support of periodic revaluation of real estate property in Newton at the discretion of the Board of Assessors, but at least once every 5 to 10 years.

Support of coordination of financial affairs within the government of the City of Newton.

Support of budgetary practices that would allow for an analysis of cost effectiveness of governmental programs and their possible alternatives.

Support strengthening the Board of Aldermen audit process to achieve greater internal control (adopted 2010).

Support ordinance to require adoption of best financial practices (adopted 2010).

Support the adoption of a comprehensive capital planning process including clear links to long-term goals (adopted 2010).

Human Services

Equality of Opportunity

Support of policies, program and practices to provide equality of opportunity for all people in Newton with emphasis on agencies that foster sound community relations.

Housing

Support of measures to provide adequate housing for people of low income. Support a local housing agency which reflects a diversity of backgrounds and the concerns of the tenants.

Support of the following measures to increase the supply of housing for families of low and moderate income:

  1. Housing for low and moderate income families should be scattered throughout the city
  2. New housing developments should be planned to accommodate a mixed socioeconomic group
  3. Newton should continue to expand its leased housing program
  4. Private non-profit, cooperative, or limited dividend corporations should construct new housing for low and moderate income families
  5. The City of Newton should make available city-owned sites suitable for the construction of low/moderate income housing; recommendations of the Planning Department should be considered in determining what sites are suitable for housing
  6. The Board of Aldermen should continue to implement its policy requiring that developers of new multiple-unit housing lease a certain percentage thereof for low-income tenants
  7. Non-profit organizations, banking, and real estate organizations should work together to promote opportunities for low and moderate income families to buy their own homes

Public Education 

Support of the policy of limited autonomy of school principals while recognizing the need for improved coordination among principals and central staff in regard to curriculum.

Physical Plant:  School Buildings

Support of long-range educational planning for space needs by the School Committee and the use of the Inspectional Services and Building Department as prime planning resources in regard to school building needs (adopted 2013).

Support prompt and effective implementation of school building programs through coordination among the Mayor, the School Committee and the Board of Aldermen, including presentation to the MA School Building Authority when appropriate (amended 2013).

Support of a long-range planning process emphasizing high quality educational standards and a balancing of educational resources to ensure appropriate and adequate capacity throughout the city using the following criteria (amended 2013):

  • System-wide flexibility to accommodate needed educational, community and family support services
  • Age, condition and location of buildings
  • Effect on whole school community of receiving schools
  • Financial implications, including need for capital improvements
  • Size of school population as it relates to educational options and flexibility
  • Equitable services offered citywide
  • System-wide stability to avoid frequent disruption of siblings

Support of a class size policy as a necessary component of quality education at the elementary and secondary levels.

Support for an increase in school funding to reflect increasing enrollment and resulting educational needs (amended 2013). See also under “LAND USE.”

Child Care

Support for child care services which are accessible, affordable and meet the various needs of children.

Support for funding to ensure access to quality child care services for all families, including:

  1. A mix of funding from government, tuition and private sector sources
  2. City-wide funding for school-age child care
  3. In-kind contributions by city and school department
  4. A child care coordinator funded by the city

Support the use of school buildings for after-school childcare, understanding that the primary use of such buildings is for educational programs. To maintain and promote quality school-age child care (SACC) in Newton the League supports:

  1. Adequate dedicated space and access to facilities in all elementary schools for SACC, with the belief that on-site, school-based, after-school child care better meets the needs of children
  2. Independently run SACC programs, with planning and operation coordinated with the individual schools
  3. Space and access to facilities within the school for SACC should have consideration in long-range planning by the School Department
  4. Increase in enrollment capacity to allow space for all children
  5. Professionalization of staff

Support long-range planning by the School Department, School Committee and Planning Department to include resources needed by SACC.

Public Health

Support of measures to improve public health in Newton for all age groups which include:

  1. Measures to improve mental health programs
  2. Fluoridation of the Newton water supply at the approved level
  3. Measures to improve public health education in Newton
  4. Measures to implement programs and facilities approved by the qualified public health official
  5. Optional in-school inoculation plan
  6. A system-wide anti-smoking program to begin before the junior high level
  7. Measures to strengthen the enforcement of the Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation

Community Residences

Support of a wide range of locally-based facilities, including community residences for people with special needs.

Support of the following measures to facilitate their integration into the community:

  1. All community residences in Newton must conform to appropriate licensing requirements and codes
  2. The process for considering requests for site plan approval should include a public hearing, periodic review, and a procedure for ongoing neighborhood input
  3. Dispersal of community residences is preferable to concentration in a particular neighborhood
  4. There should be preference for Newton residents in regard to admission to community residences in Newton to the extent that funding sources and program characteristics are not jeopardized

Alternative Housing for Adolescents

Support for alternative housing programs for troubled adolescents in Newton.

Support for education to promote acceptance in the community of programs to aid troubled adolescents.

Support for community participation in the establishment and maintenance of community residences for adolescents.

Support for funding by the City of Newton to assist in alternative housing programs for adolescents.

Library

Support for improved library services designed to meet the diverse needs of the community with priority to be given to the acquisition of books and delivery of book related services.

Support for the branch library system with consideration for closing some branches or relocation into other public buildings if significant savings can be achieved.

Support cooperation between the School Department and the Public Library.

Recreation and Open Space

Support of improved recreational facilities in Newton.

Support of the opening of schools for recreational purposes.

Support of the following goals for recreation and open space in Newton:

  1. Retention of appropriate portions of the recreation parks as natural areas, with adequate maintenance and improved access
  2. Gradual provision of new recreational facilities to serve the entire city as need is established
  3. Improvement of the neighborhood playground – playfield system
  4. Development of linear open spaces with provision for maintenance

Support consideration of the plans and needs of the Recreation Commission and the Conservation Commission before city-owned land is made available to non-municipal interests.

Support improved cooperation and coordination among the appropriate city departments and agencies in planning, effecting and maintaining recreational facilities and improvement.

Support for a Master Plan that includes all public open spaces, parks and recreational facilities, playgrounds and playfields in the City of Newton, including those under the jurisdiction of the Parks and Recreation Commission, School Department, Conservation Commission and state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) (adopted 2006).

Land Use

In all our land use positions, the LWVN’s aim is to support the goals set forth in Newton’s Comprehensive Plan (adopted 2011).

Housing

Support maintaining and creating the full spectrum of housing types to reflect and enhance the diversity of Newton’s population and neighborhoods (adopted 2011).

Economic Development

Support Economic Development policies that retain and create businesses that contribute to the vitality of the community (adopted 2011).

Development – Mixed Use

Support new development and redevelopment projects that are mixed use, compact, transit-oriented, and/or that minimize adverse environmental impacts (adopted 2011).

Zoning

Support of zoning practices consistent with regional long-range professional planning (amended 2011).

Support of flood-plain and watershed protection districts in the zoning ordinance of Newton.

Opposition to building upon certain lands for ecological reasons.

Support of the following zoning techniques: a density bonus, cluster development and planned unit development – conditional upon safeguards for the open space that would result.

Support of the adoption of density and open space standards for the community.

Support of more intensive use of business districts subject to the absence of traffic increases detrimental to the surrounding area (amended 2011).

Support zoning ordinances that are clear and understandable. We encourage the City to consider new zoning practices in its ordinances (adopted 2011).

Support modification of zoning ordinances:

  1. Support more flexible use of existing housing through zoning ordinances that allow the maximum number of accessory apartments while maintaining adequate density standards and concern for traffic. For equity, large lot districts should have a larger proportion of accessory apartments. The following restrictions should apply:
    1. All buildings/units containing accessory apartments must be owner-occupied
    2. Adequate off-street parking must be provided
  2. Support modification of zoning ordinances to legalize existing accessory apartments, with restrictions
    1. All buildings/units containing accessory apartments must be owner-occupied
    2. Adequate off-street parking must be provided
  3. Support strict enforcement of the Zoning Code

Planning in the Community

Support the implementation and regular updating of the Newton Comprehensive Plan (amended 2010).

Support the following goals for the future development of Newton:

  1. An excellent school system
  2. A well-distributed system of open spaces within the city

Redevelopment, Rehabilitation and Conservation

Support for community participation in the planning process to ensure that redevelopment benefits the original residents of the area as well as the community at large.

Opposition to financial loss being suffered by any person or business as a result of redevelopment. Displacement of a resident or a local business should take place only when prior planning and reasonable efforts to provide relocation in the area have failed.

Support of historic districts in Newton.

Closed School Facilities

Support of a procedure which sets priorities for the use or disposition of closed school facilities. Such a procedure should insure citizen participation in planning and give consideration to alternate community needs and uses. (See also under “Public Education.”)

Environmental Quality

Recycling

Support for recycling of solid waste in Newton by municipal collection and, as a first step or last resort, by voluntary effort. The following criteria should be applied:

  1. An established re-use for the recycled material
  2. An educational program to promote citizen cooperation
  3. And, in case of voluntary recycling, adequate supervision of collection depots

Sidewalk Snow Removal

Support of an ordinance requiring all owners and/or occupants to clear snow from the sidewalks abutting their properties.

Support of an ordinance requiring owners or occupants in business districts to clear snow from the sidewalks abutting their properties.

Support City plowing of sidewalks on school routes and main streets.

Transportation

The LWV Newton adopts the state transportation position for local roads, with emphasis on safety and consistency across City transportation decisions.

  • Safety First: Safe travel should be the first priority in transportation policies. City investments and enforcement strategies should be based on the principle of safety first so that everyone feels safe and so that all road users practice safe travel behavior.
  • Consistency: Newton transportation practices, policies, investments, and decisions, will be consistent with and support the City of Newton’s public plans, goals and the 2010 Comprehensive Plan, with particular attention to Environmental Impacts.

(added 2014)

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