As this editorial is being written on Wednesday, Townsend voters are preparing to attend a Special Town Meeting to address a current year budget deficit in excess of $400,000.
The deficit came about when Ashby and Pepperell voters agreed to overrides to pay for additional funding for the North Middlesex Regional School District. Though Townsend said no, the majority rules and Townsend must come up with the additional funds.
At a Special Election on Tuesday, Townsend voters turned down a third override request to cover the sum by a two-to-one margin. At the Town Meeting, current year budget cuts will dominate the agenda.
Comments made at the polls expressed anger that THREE override elections were held, all with the same result. Other comments noted the "forever" nature of an override. Though folks can vote for an underride to remove the sum from the tax levy, we've never heard of that action actually being taken.
The North Middlesex school district and its School Committee should be paying attention. Townsend will tighten its collective belts and do more with less, as most of the rest of us are doing. But though this area strongly supports education, the affordability of continuing budget hikes is doubtful, especially with a new or renovated high school on the horizon.
Hopefully, the new superintendent believes in an open and transparent budget process and understands that like the towns, the schools, too, must tighten their belts.
With rising prices and wages failing keep up, our ability to keep paying higher and higher property taxes is somewhere between nil and none.