The Boston Globe's website has a handy rundown of Proposition 2 1/2 override votes that have been held so far this year. Eighteen cities and towns have voted so far, and only seven have approved property tax increases for such things as schools, police departments, and (in Rowley) a "pumper truck." Will these springtime results offer clues about what will happen with the big tax question of the year -- the referendum on the November ballot that would eliminate the state income tax? (That's something the Legislature is not likely to let happen no matter how the referendum turns out.)
Abolition of the income tax lost by a 40-48 margin the last time it was on the ballot, in 2002. (Blanks made up the remaining 12 percent of the vote.) In most towns, the anti-tax forces got more than 40 percent of the vote, but most cities and more affluent suburbs soundly defeated the measure. Six of those communities have had override votes so far this year, and they've split down the middle, with property tax increases passing in Brookline, Natick, and Wayland but losing in Harvard, Newton, and Sudbury. The city of Newton, in particular, bears watching this fall: If the anti-tax measure comes within 10 points of passing there (it lost 29-56 last time), it should win statewide easily.
It's also worth noting that traditionally liberal Newton is the home of a controversial $200 million high school project, detailed by Seth Mnookin in this week's Boston Globe Magazine.