TOWNSEND -- After continued budget discussions, selectmen voted to postpone the Special Town Meeting scheduled for Oct. 30 until after the Proposition 2 1/2 override election on Nov. 13.
Instead, there will be an open forum to discuss the override election on Oct. 30.
By having the meeting after the election, the board will only need to present a single budget article to the town: either the appropriation of the funds from an override to maintain town services, or the list of departmental budget cuts if the override fails.
The board made the decision after discussing the pros and cons of the progression of events.
"The benefit of having the election first is when you go to Town Meeting, you know one way or the other (if the override has passed)," Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan said.
Carolyn Smart of the Finance Committee said she felt it made more sense to hold the election first.
"(That way), we wouldn't be presenting two budget amendments," she said. "We will know exactly which one to move forward with."
Fire Chief Donald Klein said he had concerns about being able to promote his department's support of the override if the election were held first.
"I think it's extremely important to get the message out," he said, adding that otherwise, "you're dooming the override to fail from the beginning."
The open forum will be held Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in the meeting room at Town Hall.
Selectman Sue Lisio said her primary concern about the forum is to make sure selectmen don't take a political stance on the override.
"I'm not pushing for an override," she said. "I'm presenting it as an option to the town. They're the ones who decide."
No amount has been set yet for the override, but the board discussed the amount of $296,000, which is approximately the amount that would be cut from departmental services in the event that the override fails.
Selectmen will have a work session Tuesday, Oct. 16, to set the amount and discuss a new date for Special Town Meeting.
In other business, the selectmen will be discussing the Squannacook River Rail Trail project at their next regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 23. They encourage supporters and abutters to attend and voice their opinions.
The board appointed Julie Johnson to the Board of Assessors for an interim position until the next local election. Roger Rapoza was appointed to the Capital Planning Committee. The board also appointed Brett King, William Elliott, Michael Grimley and Mark Mercurio to the Fire-EMS Headquarters Building Committee.
Selectmen adjourned into executive session to discuss bargaining strategy for a petition for recognition by firefighters, strategy with respect to the Highway Union and strategy with respect to the Telecommunications Union. Upon reconvening into open session, the board voted to execute the contracts discussed.
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