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Selectmen include a second override to fund pay raises

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TOWNSEND — The upcoming Special Town Meeting is going to have more than one override question.

After the Board of Selectmen voted to set the date for the Special Town Meeting as July 30 at 7 p.m., they turned their attention to what articles would be included and how they would be worded.

For the school override, the dollar amount was left to be filled in since the Board of Selectmen hadn’t received the official certified school budget from the night before.

The $175,000 cut by the school from the last certified budget should translate into a $646,000 override.

Town administrator Gregory Barnes suggested that the school override be a one-article warrant but selectmen Maureen Denig and David Chenelle had items they wanted to include.

Denig wants the town charter to be reviewed for possible “major changes.” Denig had read that the town needed to be notified at town meeting that the charter was going to be reviewed before any changes could officially be discussed.

Barnes questioned whether or not it needed to be formally presented in an article.

Since the timeline to add items to the warrant was limited, Maureen wanted the article just in case.

The article was approved by the selectmen, although it’s not expected to bring much controversy because it’s only meant to inform the public that there is going to be research on the town charter and any changes would be voted on at a later date.

Chenelle’s warrant article request is likely to cause a larger reaction.

Chenelle proposed a warrant article to give a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase to non-union, non-contractual town employees.

Selectmen are currently negotiating contracts with Police, Highway and Communication departments in a series of executive session meetings.

“It seems like the non-contract employees manage to get the short stick each year,” said Chenelle.

Chenelle said it was something he felt should be discussed although he wouldn’t make the motion if the other selectmen didn’t support it.

“I think the non-contractual employees do, for lack of a better phrase, miss out,” said Selectman Robert Plamondon.

“Maybe it’s not politically sound, or financially prudent, but has it ever been?” said Chenelle.

“I would not at all count on support for such an override,” said Barnes. “You could have a situation where we settle with our three unions and they get raises and the non-union employees do not.”

“That’s exactly the scenario that I’m trying to avoid,” said Chenelle.

The selectmen agreed that the opportunity to fund a cost-of-living increase for non-union employees should be offered.

The motion was then officially made and it passed unanimously.

Anyone who wants to have a say in the special town meeting for any of the warrant articles needs to be a registered voter. Voter registrations will be accepted until July 20, according to town clerk Daniel Murphy.

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