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TOWNSEND — If Gov. Deval Patrick’s 2011 budget wins the day, Townsend stands to lose $100,000 in state reimbursement for lost revenue from its large tracts of state forest within its borders, creating a deficit despite careful planning.

Tuesday night concerned selectmen quizzed visiting state Rep. Robert Hargraves for information about what might be contained in the House of Representatives budget in hopes of minimizing more losses.

Hargraves had no solid information, however; he said the House has the governor’s budget and the Ways and Means Committee, on which he is the second-ranking member — and one of six Republicans among 30 members — has begun putting together its budget.

That budget and the Senate’s version to come later eventually wind up in conference committee, whose compromise version is forwarded to the governor.

“We’ll (Ways and Means) be on the road every other day for the next two to six weeks,” Hargraves said, describing visits to specified communities during which individual state budget components are discussed.

“I don’t know what the governor has done with PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes),” Hargraves said, “but that’s what he went after, 14C.”

The PILOT is set forth in Chapter 14C of Massachusetts General Law, and is intended to compensate a local government for some or all of tax revenue it loses because of the nature of ownership of real property, in this case forest land.

The governor has said he intends to level-fund the 2011 budget at 2010 levels; however he has trimmed back PILOT payments.

“It’s supposed to be level-funded. We’re $100,000 down on the governor’s budget over last year,” Town administrator Greg Barnes said.

“He’s got (federal) stimulus funds in the budget (as well). It’s a political game,” Hargraves continued. “I don’t know what will be available next year with the stimulus, but I’ll know more in a couple of weeks. No one has information.”

“If the state doesn’t get stimulus money next year, but if revenues from capital gains and quarterly payments rise (as Gov. Patrick expects) there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Hargraves said he’ll be meeting with state Rep. Charles A. Murphy, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, soon, and that he wants to talk with state Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.

Selectmen Chairman David Chenelle asked rhetorically whether use of stimulus funds for the state budget is “analogous to a town like us using all its free cash for the operating budget?”

“Exactly,” Hargraves answered.”We had $3 billion in the Green Fund (free cash), but that’s now down to about $500 million. It’s politics by reality.”

“You don’t want to use free cash to balance a budget,” Chenelle emphasized.

Hargraves said that House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said there will be no new taxes in the House budget.

“The governor put in candy and cigar (sales tax revenue) in his version. It won’t fly,” Hargraves said.

School dollars

Selectmen are following Chenelle’s lead in taking a neutral stance regarding formulation of the North Middlesex Regional School District budget, unlike Pepperell, whose selectmen recently lost a bid to reduce their town’s school assessment by $350,000.

Selectman Sue Lisio reported Tuesday night that the School Committee’s finance subcommittee is busy formulating budget scenarios. At a Monday night meeting, she said, one of the scenarios represents a $2 million cutback, which in essence is the difference between a level services and a level funded 2011 budget.

Lisio said a portion of the meeting was a slide-show presentation by Jeff Wolfson of the Department of Education regarding how the state aid formula is worked out.

“He really knows his stuff,” Hargraves added.

Chenelle sought to kill rumor spreading via e-mail that the Board of Selectmen supports an alleged attempt to cut out the middle-school band budget next year.

“(This group’s) Web site says we support (the idea), according to e-mails coming in. We have no connection with support or no support for the middle school band. We have taken no position,” Chenelle said.

“We (selectmen) shouldn’t question the budget until it is certified and comes before us,” he added.

Chenelle urged concerned parents and other residents to attend school committee meetings to voice their opinions.

“I’ve voiced my opinion as an individual however when seated as a selectman; my position is only to approve or not approve the school budget,” he said, adding that he has unsuccessfully tried to find out who is behind the rumor mill.

“In my opinion, other boards in our school district are taking a more proactive role,” he added.

“For the record,” Barnes said. “yesterday’s (school budget) scenario did not include cuts to the middle-school band.”

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