TOWNSEND -- Following support from dozens of employees who came to the meeting, selectmen voted to hold a special Town Meeting and a special election for a third Proposition 2 1/2 override vote for an amount to be determined -- this time to maintain town services.
The meeting will be held Oct. 30 and the election on Nov. 13. The warrant for the meeting will be closed as of 5 p.m. on Oct. 2.
Prior to the vote, Town Administrator Andy Sheehan presented a proposed amended budget for fiscal 2013 to close the deficit left by the failed Aug. 28 override to fund the town's portion of the North Middlesex Regional School budget.
The presentation came after discussions with department heads about where they would be able to cut their budgets. The proposed budget's townwide cuts would total a savings of $296,190, which, when combined with revenue coming from local aid and local receipts totaling $172,329, would close the deficit with $2,441 to spare. The town employees present at the meeting unanimously expressed concern over the level of cuts required.
Police Lt. David Profit said he had concerns over his officers finding other opportunities for employment if the cuts were to go into effect.
"We are rattling employee confidence ... A lot of people in our organization are looking for jobs because they're concerned," he said, adding that new employees would require an enormous investment in the time it would take to train them.
Carolyn Sellars was the first to bring up the possibility of another override, but she was far from the only person to voice support on the matter.
"It's a pity to be doing this (making cuts) now when we may have other alternatives," she said.
Sellars said she had collected 35 names on a petition in support of another override since Saturday. Leslie Gabrilska, conservation agent, suggested that people might feel more inclined to vote for an override in support of the town rather than of the school.
Carolyn Smart of the Finance Committee said her understanding about the previous override votes was, "It wasn't an anti-school vote or an anti-town vote or anything else. They didn't have the money." She said if the amount being requested was lower, "it would be a much better option for people to consider."
The vote to present another override to the town passed 2-1, with Selectman Robert Plamondon opposing the decision.
"I am not doing this to be obstructionist or stubborn ... I'm doing this strictly as a matter of principle to respect the vote that was taken twice," he said.
Selectman Sue Lisio said, "I want to give people who might have said no to the school (the chance) to say yes to the town. I consider that they're two entirely different questions."
However, the selectmen and Sheehan urged town employees to be prepared to make the cuts should the override be voted down, and to work on a contingency plan.