Tough Fiscal Year Means Fee Hikes  
Thursday, July 2, 2009



The municipal calendar, July 1 in one year to June 30 in the next, turned to uncertainty this week. Fiscal 2010 is going to be a tough year for towns and cities in the commonwealth, judging from everything administrators and officials are reporting.

There are going to be lots of assessment spikes. Webster has already experienced its first. Water and sewer use charges have been increased. A modest hike in the municipal water charge, from $44.20 to $45.97, or $1.77, per 1,000 cubic feet of consumption, pales in comparison to the new sewer use charge, $49.11 to $69.40 per 1,000 cubic feet of flushed wastewater, for an increase of $20.29.

Incidentally, 1,000 cubic feet equals 7,486 gallons.

Transfers among accounts have kept a lid on water and sewer construction assessments since town meetings decided to bring municipal services to neighborhoods around Webster Lake a decade or so ago. New accounting systems now make the cost more transparent. Things should balance out, but, given the current financial malaise and the rush to spend every dollar that’s not nailed down, Webster water and sewer users will have a hard time finding anything beyond increases in the charges.



The debate on a recent Sunday afternoon was between me and Roland Savageau. Who pays for the McDonald’s order? Rollie won out with a “Please get out of my way.”

Walking ahead, vanquished, I heard an old line: “Let George do it,” said a stranger, probably meaning you win for losing. Sam Frome of Woonsocket, R.I., was close enough to overhear our dialogue. This was the start to a conversation that continued after coffee, recognizing Sam’s local connection. It was an old one, established when he was young and living in Worcester: Israel Frome, owner of a grain store on Dudley’s Oxford Avenue, was a relative. Make this the late 1950s.

I had nearly as good a line to the late Mr. Frome as Sam, because Israel was a longtime Dudley selectman during my early years on news street. And, if I might say so, he was a good fellow. Family was Sam’s connection. He remembered when Israel and his wife, Emma, lived in a big dwelling on Ramshorn Road, near Dudley-Oxford Road. The memories flowed.

Discussions ran for quite a while, but Sam and his lady had to leave: They were on their way to a dance.



High school graduation classes hold reunions every so often, marking anniversaries by half and/or full decades out of school. There’s only one elementary group I know of that follows a lets-get-together schedule: St. Anne School class of 1949, and they’ve got a 60th anniversary gathering lined up.

Robert Decelles, secretary-treasurer, says festivities will be at noon Aug. 23 at Lic’s Restaurant in Webster. Doris Suss heads the committee. Others are Phillippe Decelles, Merilyn Grzyb, Joseph Heneault and Barbara Rice. Thirty-four nattily dressed eighth-graders, 20 girls and 14 boys, filled the stairwell in front of the elementary school on Day Street for a group photograph all those 60 years ago. “A good percentage of them are still around, and we hope they turn out to reminisce about a very good time in their lives,” says Mr. Decelles.

St. Anne School, named in honor of the Sisters of St. Anne, the teaching order that still manages the parochial school, is maintained by Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish of Webster. The curriculum was English and French when the 1949 graduates got their diplomas.



Municipal layoffs have been in the news of late, what with all of the economic difficulties at the state level. Records aren’t complete, but it appears the first person ever to be laid off in Webster was the village bell ringer, who earned $20 a year to sound the Baptist meetinghouse bell every day at noon and at 9 p.m.

The job was authorized in 1834, when the town was less than two years old, and eliminated a year or so later, when town accounts dripped in red ink because of an unexpected hike in welfare costs.



Newington, Conn., and Peabody, Mass., are almost equally distant from Webster, says Arthur E. (Archie) Woznicki, a Webster native, retired school administrator and resident of Newington who has friends in Peabody.

The equal-distance bit came into focus when Archie and a former associate, now living in Peabody, searched for a halfway location for lunch. Mr. Woznicki is the author of “It’s the Principal of the Thing,” a critical look at public school principalships.
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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