Special Town Meeting Aug. 13 set to discuss, vote on override


PEPPERELL — Selectmen set Tuesday, Aug. 28, for a Proposition 2 1/2 override vote in an effort to fund the North Middlesex Regional High School fiscal 2013 budget.

On Monday, Aug. 13, there will be a Special Town Meeting at the Nissitissit Middle School at 7 p.m. to vote on the amount of the override on the $375,158 needed to fund the newly certified school budget of $44,837,082. Ashby and Pepperell will vote on the same day and Townsend, two days later.

Town Administrator John Moak said the override would work out to a tax increase of $33 for every $100,000 in property taxes. For the average Pepperell home, valued at $301,105, that works out to about $99 per year, he said.

The town’s override amount is lower than other towns because, Moak said, there was quite a significant drop in debt-exclusion and Pepperell appropriated about a 3 percent increase toward the schools over fiscal 2012, whereas the other towns did about 2 percent.

Because of that comparison, people in other towns, according to Selectmen Chairman Joseph Sergi, “may feel Pepperell is not pulling its share, but it’s how we’ve appropriated. There is no change in funding formula.”

Last Thursday, the North Middlesex Regional School District committee certified the new budget, $1,994,291 less than the previously approved budget for which override funding failed June 21.

Using a level-services budget as a basis, the school committee modified funding down by cutting from utilities, paraprofessionals and unemployment line items to bring the bottom line down, and also further reduced assessments by using $200,000 from excess-and-deficiency funds elsewhere in the budget.

In a message disseminated to students regarding the budget, district administrators said the budget will “enable the school district to continue to provide students with access to the same programs and services they enjoyed during the school year that just ended.”

Re-adjustments will also be made to staffing patterns to decrease class sizes and possible increases to athletic fees will be discussed at the next School Committee meeting Aug. 6.

A 30 -day deadline was imposed on the School Committee after the June 21 ballot. Now, towns have 45 days to hold an override vote. Despite no approved number, the school is not without a budget.

The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education has authorized a budget of $3,609,890 for July, one-12th of the fiscal 2012 budget. Another one-12th will be authorized for August as well.

Such a funding pattern will continue until district communities appropriate an approved fiscal 2013 budget or until Dec. 1, at which time the DESE will analyze previous years’ budgets and make assessments to determine a budget to be adopted by the district.