Both Override Articles Pass at Mendon Special Town Meeting
By Michelle Sanford Staff Reporter/Columnist · June 29, 2011
The majority of Mendon residents in attendance at the June 28 Special Town Meeting passed two Proposition 2 ½ operational overides articles on the warrant. A second ballot vote on each override will be July 18.
In May, residents rejected an initial $929,979 override of which $520,332 would have gone to the Regional School District and $409,646 to the town's budget. Due to its failure, a number of town services and personnel positions, including teachers, and public safety and town employees will be eliminated beginning July 1.
As a result of the failed override, the School Committee recertified its budget requesting a lower number of $272,450 from Mendon. Accordingly, the Board of Selectmen agreed to bring forward another Proposition 2 ½ override vote for the school district at the Special Town Meeting. The other override article on the warrant was the result of a citizen's petition for $409,646 to help reinstate many of the cuts to town services.
Article 7 on the Special Town Meeting warrant was the citizen's petition which was initiated by resident Mike Watson, who was not present. Watson stated previously his concerns with the decrease in public safety officers and reduced ambulance service in town from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week.
"What will happen if this is voted down and an ambulance is needed at 1:30 a.m.," questioned resident Alan Ellis. According to Police and Fire Chief Ernest Horn, a private ambulance service will be contacted from Milford, Worcester, or Medway. "But they're under no obligation to come (to Mendon)," he said.
A number of residents questioned if the town's operational budget passes and the Regional School override fails, could some of the $409,646 funding be used toward the schools budget.
An amendment to the article was brought forward to change the wording of Article 7 to state funding would be used for the operational budget of the town "exclusive of the schools," however that amendment was defeated by a vote of 76 to 71.
Another discussion was to reduce the $409,646 amount by half. Several residents felt that because the School Committee agreed to recertify its budget request by half, the town should do the same. However, Article 7 for the full amount of $409,646 was passed by a majority voice vote.
Article 8 was a Proposition 2 ½ override requesting an additional $272,450 from Mendon to fund the Regional School budget.
"Keep in mind, we're over what we're required to fund," said resident Kevin Rudden. According to budget numbers, Mendon is $1.5 million over the required local contribution. Regardless, over the past three years, due to reduced state aid and increased mandated costs, the Regional School has been forced to cut nearly 58 staff members. After to the initial $520,332 override failure in May, 17.5 positions were eliminated as well as four aide positions. Should the $272,450 override pass, approximately half of those teaching positions could be restored. Article 8 passed by majority vote.
The July 18 ballot question votes will take place at Miscoe Hill School. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.