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Minimal override will keep Dunstable afloat … barely

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Over the past few weeks, there has been some confusing and outdated information being circulated concerning Dunstable’s upcoming override. With our special election less than a week away, it’s extremely important that the record be set straight.

In the days leading up to Dunstable’s annual town meeting on May 14, the selectmen wrote a letter of support for a much-needed municipal override in the amount of $396,000. This override was voted down at the May 21 ballot by a margin of six votes.

On June 4, a balanced budget was presented to the town by the FinCom and selectmen at the continuation of town meeting but, due to the severe cuts in public safety and library services necessary to balance the budget, it was the will of the voters in attendance at that meeting to approve an unbalanced budget, thereby forcing a vote on a much smaller override. Dunstable will vote on this smaller override ($79,494) on July 30.

On June 4, a balanced budget was presented to the town by the FinCom and selectmen at the continuation of town meeting but, due to the severe cuts in public safety and library services necessary to balance the budget, it was the will of the voters in attendance at that meeting to approve an unbalanced budget, thereby forcing a vote on a much smaller override. Dunstable will vote on this smaller override ($79,494) on July 30.

Our FinCom, having unanimously supported the larger override, has taken the position that this smaller override is only a drop in the bucket; that we will still need another override next year. Unfortunately, without the smaller override “this” year, the damage that will be done to our meager town services is considerable and long-lasting, especially with respect to our library certification. Full-time police coverage and some much-needed upgrades for the Fire Department are also on the chopping block.

Some decry waste in government and pine longingly for the “good old days.” For Dunstable, these “good old days” were not that long ago — when our two-man police force operated out of a closet in town hall and the budget for our volunteer Fire Department was $15,000, as it has been for the last 20 years. Our town library was, and still is, the heart of this community. With a tight budget and many volunteered hours, they continually go above and beyond to educate and entertain with programs for young and old.

Naturally, any increase in taxes is particularly hard on those on fixed incomes. This is always an important consideration but we cannot dismantle necessary community services as a solution to this problem. These services are often more vital to this group than any other.

When the chips are down, Dunstable voters have always done the right thing. Please vote “yes” on July 30.

Respectfully,

JOAN SIMMONS