Paolillo Seeks Re-Election to Selectmen
Priorities in second term include long-term financial solutions and Uplands development.
Why give up something you love doing?
And that is one explanation why Mark Paolillo, chairman of Belmont's Board of Selectmen, told Belmont Patch why he will be seeking re-election to a second three-year term at town elections in April 2013.
"It's been a fun two-and-a-half years and I think we've accomplished a lot as a board," said Paolillo today, Nov. 14.
"I love doing this job but there is still a lot of town business to do," the Pilgrim Road resident said.
Paolillo points to the board's effort to strengthen the town's long-term financial security with the establishment of a strong financial team in the new Town Administrator David Kale, assistant Town Administrator Kelli Hebert and Town Accountant Chitra Subramanian and in creating a "town" budget last year in which the School Committee and town worked cooperatively to put out a unified budget.
"We had a lot of collaboration (with the school committee) and while we not always agreed, we take a "One Belmont, One Budget" approach and I think it was quite successful," said Paolillo.
Paolillo said he also wants to be on the Selectmen as it transfers to a policy board as the Town Administrator acquires greater power over the day-to-day running of the town.
One policy initiative Paolillo will champion in a second term is establishing a long-term financial plan for the town and schools.
"I want to talk with department heads and ask them what they really need to focus on in the next five years and plan our budgets around those priorities," said Paolillo.
Does that mean Paolillo is in favor of a Prop 2 1/2 override – which would raise revenue from property taxes over and above the state-regulated limit – to finance a four- or five-year budget?
"When I was campaigning last time, I said there was a need to infuse more revenue into town budgets although we didn't need it over the past couple of years," said Paolillo.
Paolillo said part of the long-term budgeting includes capital projects such as the future of the town incinerator site, a new Underwood pool and a new town library which Paolillo said he backs.
"It's the most used public resource we have in town," said Paolillo.
In addition, the future of the Belmont High School building will take up an increasing amount of time for schools and town officials over the next three years.
Paolillo said he sees a possible 10 to 15 year phase-in of the work required to either renovate or replace the 40-year-old building which he calls "very tired."
Paolillo said another major issue in the next three years is the proposed Uplands development, an approximately 300-unit project on the Belmont, Cambridge line – that could increase the number of students coming to already crowded Belmont schools.
"It's going to be a real challenge. We need to try to work with the developer to either sell it out right or make it less intrusive in the flood plain. But we can't do it ourselves," said Paolillo, saying it will need to "cobble together" with surrounding towns and other sources.