TOWNSEND -- At their Tuesday night meeting, the Board of Selectmen set a two-week timeline for Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan to come back with a proposal to close the budget deficit left by the failed Aug. 28 override.
Last week, Sheehan had a meeting with the heads of the town departments and asked them to review their budgets to look for areas that could be cut. He expects the departments to come back with their budget suggestions by the end of this week.
Although no concrete plans are currently in place, the board discussed several ideas regarding ways to cut the budget.
Selectman Robert Plamondon suggested discontinuing the use of town vehicles for non-mandatory purposes.
"I don't want to jeopardize the public's safety," he said. He said he was specifically referring to "take-home vehicles that are not absolutely essential for the performance of responsibilities."
Selectman Sue Lisio mentioned the possibility of putting freezes on travel, conferences and hiring.
"When you save money on hiring, you also save money on benefits attached to that hiring," she said. "If I'm faced with a choice of do I fill a position after somebody leaves or do I lay somebody off that's a current employee, my inclination is to stay with who I have."
Police Lt. David Profit said that looking at areas to trim his budget was "an exercise in futility" that would ultimately result in lay-offs, which he said he felt was an unfair possibility.
Lisio posed the question of whether the town would consider another override vote, not to pay for the school, but rather "to maintain the (town) services that we would otherwise be cutting."
Plamondon said he would not support another election.
"My position is I thought (the voters) spoke loud and clear that they did not want a tax increase. Everyone who voted the way they did may not have realized the unintended consequences of that vote, but nevertheless, I still feel that we have to honor the vote ... Democracy is messy, but it sure beats the alternative," he said.
Fire Chief Donald Klein said he respectfully disagreed with Plamondon regarding an override to pay for town services. He said that it needed to be explained to the community that "we've done everything we possibly can to make sure we didn't increase your taxes and still provide services and now we're at the point where we can't (absorb the costs anymore)."
In other news:
* Selectmen opened the Special Town Meeting warrant and are now accepting proposed articles from departments and citizen petitions.
* Selectmen approved the closing of Brookline Street on Oct. 6 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the annual Gregory Reeves Memorial Scholarship run. Police will set up alternate routes for drivers.
* Emaline Hoff was appointed to the position of recreation director to the Recreation Commission.
* Selectmen established a new Fire-EMS Headquarters Building Committee and are accepting volunteer applications for five vacant positions.
* Selectmen approved a request from the Board of Water Commissioners to hire attorney Mary Bassett to establish a water district.