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Bragan: It’s vital that budget issues are resolved soon


HARVARD — Town administrator Timothy Bragan has been getting e-mails asking what the town’s options are since voters rejected a tax override bid that would have pumped more than $700,000 into the operating budget.

Right now, there is no budget. The corresponding article on the Annual Town Meeting (ATM) warrant was tied to the override.

Now the Board of Selectmen and Finance and School committees have restarted the budget process. Bragan has prepared a primer that offers options about where to go from here.

One option would be to make cuts equal to $448,000. That is, the initial override figure of $786,000, minus three separate override articles that passed at the ATM. The figure includes credits for state revenue received after the warrant was signed.

A second option would be to cut $248,000 and go for a $200,000 override, said Bragan. The town agreed to spend that much out of the free cash account for the October Special Town Meeting, he said.

Option three is to come up with another ratio of cuts to override.

Finally, he said the boards could opt to make another override bid for $448,000, which represents a level-service budget, minus the three approved ATM articles.

In his report at the April 8 selectmen meeting, Bragan said it’s not clear why the override didn’t pass. But whatever the reason, he said the town can’t linger in limbo.

If a budget isn’t in place — approved by voters — by the end of the fiscal year, the town would have to ask for a waiver from the Department of Revenue that, if granted, would include monthly reviews until the issue is resolved, said Bragan.

Noting that cash-strapped communities across the commonwealth are dealing with similar situations, board members said the state isn’t offering money to offset the pinch.

“We’re in real trouble,” said Lucy Wallace.

And things look worse next year.

When talk turned to the reason the override failed, Rhonda Sprague, a Realtor and longtime resident, offered her take on the matter.

“It’s a pocketbook issue,” she said. “Anecdotally it expresses the pain out there. People don’t feel as rich.”

Banks are tightening up, she said, and everybody’s making cuts.

“I know it’s tough, but ” the town will have to do the same, she said.

The selectmen said they’re interested in more public input on the subject. Why did the override fail? What can be done to re-work the budget in a manner that will pass muster with residents and still run the town? Responses may be sent to the town administrator at

The budget will be discussed at a tri-board meeting April 14, at 7:30 p.m., in the Town Hall meeting room. Also on the table will be tentative dates the selectmen set for an STM and election: May 5 and 21, respectively.