Published in the November 6, 2015 edition

MELROSE — A bold effort to override Proposition 2 1/2 in relative prosperity failed by nearly a 2 to 1 margin during Tuesday’s municipal election.

The request to go outside the restrictions of the property tax-limiting state law by $2.25 million each year for the foreseeable future lost in each of the city’s 14 voting precincts. Unofficially, 5,031 voted against the proposal while 3,019 supported it at the polls. Of Melrose’s 18,717 registered voters, 8,232 participated in the 2015 election, a turnout of about 44 percent.

Any override request is a tough sell and supporters of the measure — which would have bolstered the school system and public safety — knew that going into the final weeks leading up to Tuesday’s vote.

Jen McAndrew of the override-supporting Yes For Melrose group said Wednesday: “You really have to give the electorate a compelling case to pass an override. A lot of people didn’t feel a sense of crisis in this one. Of course, I disagree; I believe it is necessary so we don’t have to come back looking something like this in the future. However, this was not a ‘gun to the head’ override, and (Mayor Robert J. Dolan) said that. The override was being asked for in fairly decent economic times. But we felt It was a ‘let’s plan for the future’ request.”

She also expressed pride in the effort override backers made in getting their message to the voters.

McAndrew added, “One positive outcome (of the override vote) is we’ve really started a conversation about how we are adequately going to fund our schools and plan for the future. I know that conversation has not ended.”

The Taxpayers Alliance of Melrose was resurrected this summer by Brian and Julie DeLillo to oppose the override’s passage.

In an August letter, they wrote, “We have heard from the Mayor’s office and from those in the school system who would benefit about why they would like these additional tax dollars. Now it’s time to tell the stories of the rest of the community, the households struggling under ever-increasing tax and utility bills to stay in the city, the senior citizens who are already making tough choices on a fixed income, and the families who have worked hard to afford to come here from gateway cities and get the best possible education for their children.

“We all deserve to be proud of the investments we have made in education here in Melrose. This year alone, we have funded a 3½% increase and five new positions in the school budget, and added over $6 million in new debt since January for school construction. We spend nearly as much per-pupil as wealthier towns like Winchester and Belmont according the most recent numbers from the Massachusetts Department of Education.

“Most of the additional $2.25 million per year adds 13 new positions to the school system without including a single regular classroom teacher. Six will teach additional electives, and the rest are an array of specialists, directors, facilitators and coaches to provide ‘support.’ A third of the override funds go toward correcting the school department’s irresponsible budgeting practices, leaving a small amount for “technology and digital learning” and an fancy new elementary reading curriculum. The two police officers added to “reduce overtime” represent just 6.7% of the override. Not a single dollar is spent on anything else: roads, teacher contracts, school supplies, or building maintenance.

“And how does this affect the taxpayer? The Mayor cites just $20 per month on average, ignoring the reality of how property taxes are assessed. This override will actually hike the average quarterly tax bill $120 come January, in addition to the “normal” 2½ % increase. And half of Melrose households will pay more. A home assessed at $700,000 will see an additional $200 in January. And it never ends. This new tax increase will then subsequently grow by 2½ % each year in perpetuity, without additional voting or public discussion.”

Brian DeLillo said this week he was appreciative of all those who supported the alliance’s efforts and who helped get the word out.

He also said, “We look forward to working together to make sure the city keeps moving in the right direction.”