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SHIRLEY — The Special Town Election, held in concert with the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 4, included seven ballot questions, each of which aimed to raise real estate and personal property taxes above the limits set by Proposition two and a half.

Three of the town’s override ballot questions passed and four failed.

In the general election, the town mostly backed Democrats, true to tradition.

If the voter turnout didn’t set a record, it came close. A total of 3,135 residents cast ballots, or 80.7 percent of the town’s 3,887 registered voters.

Election workers said a line had already formed when the polls opened at 7 a.m. and traffic was brisk all day.

Dozens of election workers helped out at the polls; some regulars, others new this year.

With paper ballots and old-fashioned, hand-crank ballot boxes, Shirley’s process tends to be slow but smooth. This year, with two separate ballots, town clerk Amy McDougall had a well-orchestrated machine going full-tilt in the main conference room at the Town Offices.

One glitch arose during the day: One of the boxes briefly choked. As a result, almost 100 votes cast while the mechanical counter was down had to be added to the total at the end of the day.

Asked if the presidential contest or the town-centric ballot questions had brought them out to vote, people’s reactions were mixed. Some said they always vote. Others focused on the historic presidential election. A few said they were interested in both equally.

But nobody said they’d come only to vote on the tax overrides.

Vote counting went on late into the night.

Election Results

In the four top races, the wins all went to the Democratic party.

In the presidential race, Obama edged McCain, 1,605 to 1,416.

For Senator in Congress, John Kerry beat Jeffrey Beatty, 1,658 to 1,288.

For state Senator, James Eldridge beat Steven Levy, 1,689 to 1,260.

For state Representative, Jennifer Benson topped Kurt Hayes, 1,603 to 1,328.

On the state ballot, voters said yes to all four questions, agreeing to end the state income tax, criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana and greyhound racing and to a non-binding referendum aimed at funneling money from the commonwealth’s bulging “rainy day” fund back to its cities and towns.

Override voting

On the town election ballot, three of the seven override questions passed; four failed.

Question one asked for an additional $48,000 to fund Police Department operating expenses. Specifically, the request was to restore a police officer who was laid off when a trio of tax override bids failed at a previous election, leaving the department short-staffed on some shifts.

The measure passed, 1,569 yea to 1,490 nay, with 31 blanks.

Question Two asked for $100,434 to fund the Fire Department this year. The money was requested to restore three laid-off firefighter/EMTs and return the department to full-time status, with a staff of two at the station on three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It failed, 1,588 nay to 1,461 yea, with 41 blanks.

Question Three asked for $34,000 to fund the Public Works department (DPW) for the fiscal year. The money corresponds to the salary of a laid-off DPW worker. Director Joe Lynch has said it’s important to restore the position, without which the road crew would consist of just three workers to deal with sanding and salting during the winter season.

It failed: 1,670 said no and 1,361 said yes, with 59 blanks.

Question Four asked for $98,500 to continue the town’s curbside trash and recycling pickup program through the end of Fiscal Year 2008.

It passed, 1,718 yea to 1,331 nay, with 41 blanks.

Question Five asked for $14,000 for the Council on Aging. Backed up by an added $14,000 from a private, anonymous donor, the COA has said it would use the money to fund programs and hire a part-time director as it moves forward with plans to establish a senior center in town.

It failed: 1,829 said no and 1,199 said yes, with 62 blanks.

Question Six asked for $17,000 to fund the library for FY2009. Without it, the library might not be able to meet criteria for state grants and programs would suffer, Library Director Deb Roy said, although she has applied for a waiver.

The measure passed, 1,563 yea to 1,478 nay, with 49 blanks.

When the overrides failed at the last town election, the new Hazen Memorial Library — that town voters agreed to pay more in taxes to build a few years ago — cut its schedule by 11 hours.

The library has been closed on Mondays and Tuesdays since September and Roy said she would like to reopen on one of those days. But the staff she had to cut from the roster may have other plans now.

Question Seven asked for $15,875 to fund longevity pay for non-union town employees.

The request failed by a large margin: 2,344 said no and 664 said yes, with 82 blanks.

Tuesday’s votes raises the estimated tax rate 25 cents from $11.18 to $11.43 per $1,000 of valuation, said principal assessor Rebecca A. “Becky” Caldbeck. So the average single family home valued at $301,562 would have an estimated tax of $3,446.85. The Department of Revenue is expected to certify the town tax rate in the coming weeks.