TOWNSEND -- Residents of Townsend overwhelmingly voted down a Proposition 2 1/2 override at the Nov. 13 polls. By the time the polls closed at 8 p.m., 1,508 people had voted: 1,026 voted against the override, 482 voted in favor of it.
As opposed to the two previous overrides, the Nov. 13 election was proposed by the town rather than the school district. The override vote was designed to close the deficit in the town budget left by the failed Aug. 28 override, which was to supplement funds for the schools. Because Pepperell and Ashby voted in favor of the Aug. 28 override, Townsend is required to fund its portion of the supplemental budget to the district, which totals $416,728. As a result of the third failed override, the town will vote at its Nov. 14 Special Town Meeting to appropriate the amount through $271,117 in departmental budget cuts, additional found revenue and through the transfer of $22,632 from free cash.
The voter commentary at the polls reflected the outcome, with those opposed to the override speaking out in greater numbers.
Resident Dan Arsenault was pleased with the outcome. He had hoped that residents would vote the same way that they had during the past two elections. Arsenault was one of several voters to say that he was displeased with being presented with an override election for a third time.
"I think it's absolutely ridiculous. It's a waste of money. When someone says no, no should be the answer," he said.
Other residents against the override said their vote came from a financial standpoint.
"I really can't afford it," said Pat Atwood. "Taxes keep going up and up and up, as well as gas and light, and I really can't afford it."
Phil Monat said in a better economy, he wouldn't hesitate to vote in favor of the override, but as it was, he couldn't justify asking residents to increase their taxes.
"If this had been eight years ago, I would have been very comfortable spending the money," he said. But as of now, he said, "It's very important to me that people don't over stress the people that are having trouble with jobs and income."
Voters in favor of the override said they wanted to support the town departments.
"I don't want to make cuts to police and fire. I think it's important," said Toby O'Brien.
Lori Lambert said although she didn't feel she had enough money to have her taxes increased, she planned to vote in favor of the override.
"I volunteer at the senior center, and (the center) and also the library and things, they need it."
Diane Larsen said she felt voting yes would be in the best interest of the long-term well-being of the town.
"I think the town and the people need to step forward. I think they should have from the beginning, but now the money has to come from somewhere. I think that we want to create a town that is going to draw people in and is bettering itself. I think we need to do something to have that happen."
Pam Towson said despite voting against both school overrides, she was in favor of funding the town.
"I had voted no the last two times, but I think I'm going to vote yes today," she said. "I don't want my services cut."
Alternatively, Christine Silver, who had voted affirmatively for the two previous overrides, said she voted against for this one.
"I'm hoping it doesn't pass. I'm saddened that this town thinks more of its offices than education," she said. "I think there are lots of areas where cuts could be made. I think (Town Administrator) Andy Sheehan has done an excellent job with his recommendations (for budget cuts), and I hope the selectmen follow them to the letter."
Regardless of the outcome or of personal opinion, there was one thing nearly every voter agreed with: Looking forward to the process drawing to a close.
"It will be good when this issue is settled," said Alice Struthers, "and the government can get on with their business as usual."