PEPPERELL -- In June, voters rejected the town's Proposition 2 1/2 override to augment funding of the fiscal year 2015 budget. Finance Committee Chairman Melissa Tzanoudakis said the override failed because of a low turnout due to significant confusion over the date of the vote.
The Board of Selectmen voted to hold another Special Town Meeting on Sept. 2 to try again at a Proposition 2 1/2 override but for a different amount. If passed, it will then be subject to another affirmative vote at an election. That vote would be held Sept. 9 in conjunction with state primary elections.
The new amount was thought to be lower than the original presented in May, but selectmen added $36,000 for a new police cruiser, raising the request to $1,136,153.
Tzanoudakis said the amount will help to close an approximately $125,000 anticipated deficit in year five of the proposed five-year plan. This is the first year the Finance Committee has decided to draft a five-year budget plan.
"We are hoping that moving forward, we can plan it (the budget) in five-year increments," said Tzanoudakis.
Town Administrator John Moak worked with committee members on ways to raise awareness of the upcoming Special Town Meeting and elections.
"I've told all my department heads, you have the responsibility as a board member and as a town employee to answer questions and to inform people," said Moak.
Town officials have said that the override is essential to assure the effective and efficient operation of town government.
According to Moak, there are state laws that restrict the town from distributing unsolicited information, which he said makes it harder to inform people about the need for a Proposition 2 1/2 override.
The Finance Committee will discuss steps to get more information out about the Special Town Meeting on Aug. 14.
Moak and the committee also talked about ways they can communicate more efficiently about the budget with North Middlesex schools, and plan to discuss that further in the future.
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