SHIRLEY -- Setting the date for Special Town Meeting sparked quite a bit of discussion and some debate at the selectmen's meeting Monday night.
With three nights to choose from and pros and cons considered for each, the board voted to hold the meeting Tuesday, June 26 at 7:15 p.m. in the middle-school auditorium.
The agenda will consist of one item: Re-approval of the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District assessment.
Last week, annual Town Meeting approved an assessment of $350,000 based on the Finance Committee's recommendation, rather than the School Committee's request for $550,000.
It wasn't a contentious decision, however.
Superintendent of Schools Carl Mock said on Town Meeting floor that the committee didn't object to the downsized amount, since the assessment figure would likely have to be adjusted anyway for both member towns.
Ayer rejected its assessment the previous week at the committee's request and for the same reason. There's no word yet on what the new number will be, but Mock said it's in the works, with the Required Local Contribution, a key factor, expected to come out close in the House and Senate budgets versus the Gov. Deval Patrick's budget that the earlier figure was based on. Any of the three STM options would be OK with the School Committee, Mock said Monday night, but if the date were Monday, June 25, it would be the same as Ayer's.
Selectman Bob Prescott favored June 25, arguing that Ayer's earlier vote could influence Shirley's decision. Voters here should make up their own minds, he said.
Moderator George Knittel said he could see sense in all the arguments, but he would be available for any of the three nights.
"We'll get it done, one way or another," he said.
The strongest argument against the usual Monday-night time schedule came from Town Clerk Amy McDougall, who said it would be a "huge hardship" for her for several reasons, the most compelling being that there's a double special election in town the next day that she must prepare for, with a special state election and a town election to decide the fate of three ballot questions.
"I just don't want any backlash...holding it on a different night than usual," Selectman Kendra Dumont said.
Treasurer Kevin Johnston said he was "confident" people would come out, no matter what night the meeting is held on.
"I'm begging you..." not to hold it on the 25th, McDougall said. But she didn't like the 27th either.
Given the mandatory timeline set by the School Committee's budget certification, she said that date wouldn't allow enough space to reschedule if necessary.
Administrative Assistant Kathi Rocco sided with that logic. An emergency could come up, she said.