The Newton Fund
Introducing TM
The Newton Fund


The Newton Fund is a proposed outside the box, entrepreneurial idea from Newton, Massachusetts Mayoral candidate Rich Saunders.
This proposal is intended for consideration as a substitute option in place of future Proposition 2 1/2 overrides.

see bottom of page for endorsement from Citizens for Limited Taxation

(fyi - CLT is the powerful grassroots organization that sponsored Prop 2 1/2)

In past years, Newton's citizens have voted for and against Proposition 2 1/2 overrides. Many concerned citizens and elected officials believe that we will need more overrides in the near future in order to keep the process of improving Newton going strong, while preserving the gains already achieved. Revenues from the state have been declining and are not expected to improve in the near term. Newton's finances will be stressed with obligations to retirees, expiring union contracts, infrastructure improvements, spiraling health care costs etc.

Mayoral candidate Rich Saunders believes that we need to explore every option and that prop 2 1/2 overrides represent a failure of leadership and vision. Continuing to place excessive burdens on those who can least afford tax increases can and should be avoided if possible.
Newton has many civic minded individuals who are able and willing to vote for overrides as often as they are allowed. We are lucky to have such a generous and thoughtful base of these unselfish taxpayers. The downside is that most of the people who vote in favor of the overrides are those who can easily afford to pay higher taxes, while the unintended consequence of a successful override is that it forces a genuine hardship on thousands of homeowners and renters who are living within tight budgets that are being strained by other forces outside of their control. Increasing their taxes runs counter to the admirable progressive agenda that many Newtonian's subscribe to.
Rich Saunders believes that taxes should be kept to a reasonable minimum in order to protect those citizens upon which they are a significant burden. is proposed as an idea that could serve the needs of the city while lessening the burden on that significant percentage of the population who live within tight budgets.

We propose the formation of a trust fund with the city of Newton as the sole beneficiary. The exact legal nature, structure and administration of the fund will be worked out later if the idea captures enough public support. The goal is to build a fund with assets that will be transferred to the city of Newton's general fund every few years to be used at the discretion of the city in its budget practices. Periodic injections from the fund to the city treasury will supplement property taxes and (hopefully) negate the need for Prop 2 1/2 overrides. If it is successful even beyond that goal, there is a chance the fund could lead to a reduction in property taxes for some years, especially if the economy improves and state funding increases.

The basic idea is that everyone who would intend to vote in favor of a Prop 2 1/2 override would be encouraged to donate to this fund instead. Most people find that voluntary charitable giving is much more satisfying than being forced to pay tax increases. Local businesses would also be encouraged to contribute if their own finances are healthy enough. Many donors may be inspired to give in excess of the amount normally assessed to them in an  override year. The fund will be similar to endowments raised by colleges and other non-profits. Consider the fact that many individuals make generous yearly contributions to Boston College and Harvard University. Many of these donors spent only four years at these institutions, yet continue to donate for decades after graduating and moving away.

We believe that lots of Newton natives who grew up here and moved away still feel as strongly and affectionately about Newton as they do about their college Alma mater. Lots of people who grew up in Newton moved on to have highly successful carers in business and entertainment fields. Many of these people would be happy to donate to Newton's endowment as a way to help out struggling taxpayers and also to give back to the city they still love, even if their careers led them away from here. This is a way that they can reconnect with Newton in a very meaningful way.

If elected as Newton's mayor, Rich Saunders pledges to start the fund with a $5,000 donation every year he remains in office. He will use the power of the mayors office to reach out to the very large community of potential donors inside and outside the city. He will use the same model that colleges use so successfully to build their endowments. Newton has spawned many citizens who have become national celebrities and if some of these individuals decide to become donors, that could have quite a snowball effect that could jump start the fund's success.

Saunders will not be involved as one of the fund's trustees and will not have access to any of the funds raised. It is expected that volunteers from the community with expertise in this field will step up as trustees.

One incentive to encourage people to donate is that this website will maintain a list of donors (or pledges) available to be seen by the public. The largest donors will be listed at the top of the page and the list will run down from there in numerical order by amount. All donors will receive a listing; people and businesses will have the option of being listed as Anonymous if they so choose. The listings will be searchable so that any individual will be able to quickly find their own listing and link to that page to encourage others to match their generosity. There will be a category for individual donors and another for donations from businesses, corporations and other organizations. Donors may state that the donation is "in memory of . . . ", if they choose that option.

This strategy coincides with Saunders pledge (if elected) to aggressively pursue PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) from Boston College and other non-profits who have a moral, but not a legal obligation to contribute to the welfare of the city. Saunders acknowledges that these institutions already contribute significantly in many other ways, but he also believes that a more direct financial transaction in the form of negotiated and structured PILOT payments is not too much to ask of organizations with healthy endowments..

The escalation of taxes and tax rates has a natural limit and we simply cannot keep relying on that method as the answer to periodic fiscal dilemmas. This proposal, along with sound financial management of the city's budget and finances is something that could serve the needs of all of Newton's stakeholders, while easing the burden on those working families who are most vulnerable to be hurt by property tax increases and proposition 2 1/2 overrides.


“Thinking outside the box is very admirable.  The “Newton Fund” is an innovative alternative to higher property taxes, much as CLT’s voluntary tax check-off is for the state income tax.  It allows those who want more revenue expenditures, and have the ability, to fund them voluntarily without burdening those who cannot afford higher taxes.
CLT proposed the voluntary tax check-off after its successful 2000 ballot question to roll back the state income tax rate.  Taxpayers who wanted the tax rollback won at the polls, but those who asserted that they "don't need or want" a tax cut won as well.  The Legislature agreed with us, passed our bill in 2002, and willing taxpayers have since been paying at the old tax rate of 5.85 percent.  Everyone was a winner.”
Chip Ford
Executive Director
Citizens for Limited Taxation

---------------------------------------------------------------- is not affiliated with the U.K. fund or any similarly sounding fund or name

For questions, comments or to make a non-binding pledge; email

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