TOWNSEND -- Following a special work session on Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen is circling around an amount of $199,000 for the proposed override. The official amount is pending final review of the numbers, and could potentially have a swing of up to approximately $25,000.
The amount was determined through the addition of savings in energy at the library and Senior Center at $10,000, through an unfilled communications center position at $29,610, through approximately $23,000 in free cash and through additional $50,000 added to the revenue subtotal in ambulance receipts from the Fire Department. The $50,000 brings the revenue subtotal to around $222,000.
The override election, which is scheduled for Nov. 13, will be followed by a Special Town Meeting, the date for which is not yet set. If it goes through, the town will vote at the meeting to fund the budget with the override. If the override fails, the town will vote on an article to amend the budget to close the $466,078 deficit. The budget amendments include cuts to town departments.
Prior to the meeting, the projected budget cuts totaled $296,190; selectmen do not want to ask for the entire amount in the override. Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan found an additional potential $10,000 in energy savings in the library and Senior Center, although it still has to be negotiated with the vendor.
Prior to this year, Sterilite had been helping cover some of the energy costs at the building, but the town will be taking responsibility of the full amount and had to increase the budget accordingly. Sheehan said he took an educated guess on the increased amount, but the total looks as though it will be lower than originally anticipated.
"That building is very efficient. It has had problems in terms of heating and ventilation, but despite that it is still trending lower than what budget listed," he said.
The unfilled communications center position was originally on the list of budget cuts, but Selectman Sue Lisio said she felt the removal of the position would compromise the Public Safety Department. Among other responsibilities, the position would be used to train dispatchers on how to walk callers through life-saving procedures over the phone.
"My concern is all you need is one tragedy, one person to say 'You as a town did not adequately provide for the kinds of services that this person needed, and because of that I find you liable,'" she said.
However, by postponing the hire until halfway through the fiscal year and turning it into a six-month position as opposed to a full-year position, the salary would be reduced from $59,219 to $29,610.
Initially, the town budget had requested $250,000 in ambulance receipts from the Fire Department, but with the upcoming override, Sheehan proposed taking out an additional $50,000, to which Chief Donald Klein consented, pending a vote from the town.
Originally selectmen had concerns about taking money out of free cash to supplement the funds from the override. Funds for snow and ice removal are taken annually from free cash.
"If something goes wrong, we're in a real jam," said Selectman Robert Plamondon.
However the board decided in favor of using some of the free cash in an effort to get the override amount below $200,000.