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Mendon Feeling Impact of Override Failure

During a June 15 meeting, the Board of Selectmen made some difficult decisions concerning personnel layoffs after voters rejected a Proposition 2 ½ override. Due to the override's failure, every department in town has been forced to make cuts to its budget.

Throughout the discussion that evening, the Board reviewed different scenarios on how to cut $45,000 out of the General Government's budget. One scenario included cutting one full-time Town Hall position and reducing the Senior Work Off Abatement program's budget by $5,000. Another scenario was an across the board 35 percent reduction in staff hours.

Initially, Selectman Michael Ammendolia felt the latter scenario was the most fair and equitable solution for everyone. However, Selectman Lawney Tinio believed that due to prior years cuts which reduced the work week from five to four days, Town Hall employees are having a difficult enough time now completing their work responsibilities without reducing hours even more.

"There really are no good solutions," said Ammendolia. "This is not pleasant; not pleasant at all."

Selectman Chair Michael Goddard agreed.

"These (decisions) are impacting people's lives. These are very real consequences of the vote," said Goddard.

Ultimately, the Selectmen unanimously voted to lay off one-full time employee and reduce the Senior Work Off Abatement's budget. The cuts will be effective July 1. After the meeting, Goddard chose not to comment on which position would be eliminated until that person had been notified.

Relating to budget cuts, Police Chief Ernest Horn asked the Board to approve the reduced ranking of two police officers in order to cut $10,000 out of the Police Department's budget. The two officers affected, Brian Massey and Guy Kloczkowski, will now go from the rank of Sergeant to Patrolmen but will continue to maintain all rights and salaries in accordance with their contracts.

The Board also approved the layoffs of two police officers. Effective June 30, Officers Ed Pokornicki and Jack Coffey will lose their jobs; both officers had been with the Mendon Police Department for ten years.

With the two layoffs, Mendon's Police force is now down to nine officers. According to Horn, ten years ago, 14 officers were on the force. "This is the first time in Mendon's history we're laying off officers," said Horn, who added there will be some shifts with no officers on duty and that nearly all vacation requests in the Department will need to be denied. Due to other cuts in Public Safety, there is no ambulance service in town from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and virtually no call Fire Department left.

There is a chance some department cuts could be restored with the Board's decision to bring a second override vote before residents. On June 28, a Special Town Meeting is being held during which residents will vote on two override questions. The first is another Proposition 2 ½ override totaling $272,450 for the Regional School District. The second override question was placed on the warrant due to a citizen's petition for $409,646 to restore the town's cuts and eliminations. A second ballot vote has been scheduled for July 18.


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