Responding to a request from the town Finance Committee, the Board of Selectmen has added three so-called placeholders on the warrant for Town Meeting that leave open the option of a tax override for the fiscal year 2009 budget.
The first placeholder is for a general override to address potential school budget issues. The second is for a debt exclusion for purchase of needed equipment or other durable supplies. The third provides for the possibility of a capital improvement fund.
At this time, potential dollar amounts are undetermined, and the placeholders may be withdrawn before Town Meeting in May, according to Selectman Lonnie Brennan.
Voters turned down a $1.1 million override by a margin so narrow it prompted a recount last spring.
— David Cogger
Georgetown voters narrowly defeated a proposed $1.1 million override at the annual town election yesterday, but supporters are expected to seek a recount.
With nearly 50 percent of the town’s registered voters turning out, the tax increase lost by 1,284 to 1,267.
Selectman Matt Vincent, a supporter of the ballot measure, said he had spoken earlier today with citizens planning to collect signatures on a petition needed for a recount. The town clerk’s office confirmed this afternoon that a resident had stopped by to pick up a petition.
Vincent said he supported having a recount because blanks were recorded on the override question on 67 ballots cast in the election.
"I think given the margin, it’s important to be able to look at those so no one has any doubts as to the final results," he said.
The annual Town Meeting on May 7 had authorized $1,061,822 in additional funding for the fiscal 2008 operating budget, conditioned on passage of the override. Of that amount, 71 percent would have gone to the schools, and the rest to other town departments.
Supporters had argued that the override is needed to help the town keep pace with rising costs. They said the defeat will mean the loss of two to three teachers, a reading tutor, the school facilities manager, and a custodian at the schools; a reduction in funding for the library, the Fire Department, and veterans services; and the turning off of 75 street lights, among other cuts.
The override also would have provided funds for hiring of four to five teachers and a Highway Department laborer; and the purchase of safety equipment for the Fire Departments.
"I’m disappointed," School Committee chairman George Moker said. "But at the same time I’m also encouraged by the record number of supporters for the override. ... That tells me that things are pointed in the right direction. However, the problems we have are real and ... this need is not just going to go away."
Selectman Lawrence Brennan, who opposed the override as excessive, said that supporters "worked extremely hard and had a large organization. They were relentless in their efforts. But people told them ‘no.’"
For more on the vote, read Override fails in Georgetown.
- John Laidler
Georgetown’s annual Town Meeting last night set the stage for a ballot vote next week on a proposed override of Proposition 2˝.
By a show of hands, the meeting approved $1,061,822 in additional funding for the operating budget, contingent on passage of an override at the annual town election next Monday.
The vote came after the meeting approved a $22.5 million fiscal 2008 operating budget that does not include the override money. Should the ballot question prevail, 71 percent of the $1.1 million would be added to the school budget, and the remaining 29 percent to other town departments.
The override would add $334 to the tax bill of an average single-family home assessed at $412,485.
Supporters say the override is needed to help the town meet its rising costs.
"I think what this would give us is really the bare minimum level of funding to keep our heads above water," said Selectman Matt Vincent.
He said defeat of the override would mean the loss of two to three teacher jobs, a custodian, and the facilities manager in the schools; and reduced funding for the library, public works, and fire departments, among other cuts.
Vincent said the override also provides funds for an array of pressing needs, including the hiring of four to five additional teachers and a Highway Department laborer.
Selectman Lawrence Brennan opposes the tax increase, saying the requested spending is excessive.
"You can’t have everything in life, you need to make decisions," he said.
For more on the Georgetown vote, see Voters consider $1.1m override
-- John Laidler