PEPPERELL -- On Thursday, cross-district Proposition 2 1/2 override votes will be held in Pepperell, Townsend and Ashby to fund the North Middlesex Regional School District budget.
For fiscal 2013, $3,528,543 worth of the school's $46,831,373 will be going to ballot. Voters will decide whether or not to pass Proposition 2 1/2 overrides.
Pepperell will be voting on an override of $1,691,653, a yearly increase of $441 to an average single-family home valued at $301,105. Polls will be open at Varnum Brook Elementary School gymnasium from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 21.
In Townsend, the override is $1,375,950, an estimated yearly increase of $421 to an average single-family home valued at $248,492. Polls will be open at Memorial Hall from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Ashby's override totals $460,940, an estimated yearly increase of $346 to an average single-family home valued at $212,248. Polls will be open at Ashby Elementary from noon to 7:30 p.m.
Those override amounts are based on town assessments, determined by the town's percentage of student population.
Although a number of outcomes could play out, town finance committees and the School Committee are waiting till after the vote to handle scenarios in which a budget has to be resubmitted or a second election needs to be called.
Two weeks ago the Pepperell Finance Committee met to discuss scenarios. Because of the way the district is structured, if a majority of town members pass es the overrides,
In the event that Pepperell votes no and Ashby and Townsend vote yes, Pepperell Finance Committee Chairman George Zacharakis said the town would be required to pay for the increase outside the tax levy, possibly resulting in major cuts to reserve funding, town departments and services or both.
Monday, the selectmen said they would not support gouging town services as such. They urged residents to "vote how you want to vote."
"The board supports that, if it doesn't pass, another election will be held," said Pepperell Selectman Joseph Sergi.
Any issues around having a plan B, C or D, he said, could be a little misleading for voters prior to the vote.
School Committee members are going to be meeting next at a date after the vote to be determined. Sue Robbins, the committee chair, said if the budget doesn't pass, the committee will draw up a new budget.
"An override of some sort is likely needed even for a level-funded or a level-services budget because, given what the town contributions are at this point, revenues are less than last year," she said.
After drawing up the budgets, new assessments would be calculated for each town and resubmitted within 30 days. Then new the district would decide on whether or not and how to fund the district.
According to state law, if the operating budget of a regional school district is not approved by July 1, the commissioner of education shall establish an interim monthly budget equal to one twelfth of the district's prior year budget. The interim budget remains until an operating budget is approved or until Dec. 1, at which time the commissioner assumes financial control of the district.
In the event the overrides do not pass, the school has the option of resubmitting a new budget request before the budget goes into effect on July 1.
According to Townsend Finance Committee Chair Andrea Wood, the committee has not discussed possible scenarios. She added they may do so at their next meeting, but expects there will be little discussion until the outcome of the June 21 decision.
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