When a Penny was Worth a Penny
by Bobby Blair
What a difference a little over one hundred years makes. With Town Meeting coming up in a few weeks, HNN looks back at the cost of running the town at the end of the 19th Century (1899-1900).
The entire cost for all 25 teachers in the town’s system amounted to $6,504.10. The schools’ transportation costs amounted to $1,141.40. The Annual Town Report doesn’t mention which mode of transportation was available, but one might guess that it was via horse and buggy or possibly electric trolley. Care of the building and grounds at the schools amounted to $285.95, with another $433.00 split up amongst 8 janitors. The average salary of a School Superintendent in Massachusetts was $1,761.00. The class of 1899 had six graduates.
The population of the town five years earlier in 1895 was 2,718.
The entire budget for the Fire Dept. amounted to $2,180.00 with $118.06 unexpended. The Police Dept. ran on a budget of $540.10, employing 10 officers, and the Board of Health used $312.19.
Jumping ahead a half century to 1950, we find that the salary for the Town Clerk for the entire year was $200.00. The Fire Dept. budget had increased in those 50 years to $7,405.00 a difference of $5,225.00. The Police Dept. expended $8,54718 in 1950 and the Board of Health $2,354.43.
The HHS Class of 1950 numbered 35 and teachers' salaries had jumped to a staggering $65,422.63. The total school budget was $96,626.51. With the advent of horse less carriages (a.k.a. buses) the transportation costs for sending students to school had risen to $5,432.50.
With Fall Town Meeting a little over two weeks away, maybe we should all make an attempt to fulfill our civic duty and attend. You get what you vote for.
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