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Override and Pay Freezes at Mendon ATM

The Mendon Finance Committee presented the Board of Selectmen with a Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 11) budget which depicted a worst case scenario of cuts and layoffs that could occur should the Proposition 2½ Override of $594, 272 not pass and pay freezes by teachers are not agreed to. All union and non-union town employees recently agreed to pay freeze for FY11. Negotiated raises were slated to increase by 2 ½ percent. The agreement is contingent upon teachers agreeing to a similar pay freeze.

The Mendon FY 11 budget is scheduled to be voted on during the Annual Town Meeting on May 7 at Miscoe Hill School. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

In April, the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to place a $594,272 Proposition 2½ override on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant with $490,272 going to the regional schools in order to prevent critical cuts in staff and services. The remaining override monies of $104,000 will go to the town.

The Finance Committee also recom-mended cutting an additional $190,000 from the town's municipal budget to go toward the regional schools in order to bridge the schools' budget gap further.

The Mendon Upton Regional Schools overall budget for FY11 is estimated at $6,937,824, a $443,751 increase from last year's budget of $6,494,073, or approximately 7 percent. The Blackstone Valley Vocational School's budget increased 16.48 percent from $275,325 to $320,686.

Should the override fail and all pay freezes are not agreed to, the schools' will not only be forced to cut positions, but several town employees could lose their jobs including the Assistant Town Clerk, Assistant Collector, and possibly a position in the Public Works Department. In addition, third shift Fire Department staff may need to be eliminated. Other major cuts could involve eliminating $30,000 from the library's budget and slashing the Parks and Recreation Department's budget by more than $18,000.

The town is also dealing with increases in the Worcester County Retirement Fund, workers' compensation, long-term disability, Medicare, and insurance.

The good news is that state aid is predicted to increase slightly to $406,882. Originally, the Finance Committee estimated that amount would be $399,073. Estimated receipts, which include regional dispatch receipts, ambulance receipts, motor vehicle excise, and fines, among others totaled $1,890,725.

The Finance Committee is estimating that the town's overall Fiscal Year 2011 budget is approximately $13.4 million, a 5 percent increase from last year.

This was Richard Schofield's first year serving on Finance Committee and he admits it was a difficult time to come into the position. "It was a huge eye-opener for me," he said of putting the FY 11 budget together. "It's disappointing not being able to make people happy." However, Schofield reiterated that the Finance Committee ultimately does not control the budget. "We only recommend," he said.

There is a chance that the budget article could be passed over until the outcome of the override is determined at both the Annual Town Meeting and the Town Election scheduled for May 18.

Other articles to be voted on during the Annual Town Meeting include the purchase of 27 acres of land located on Asylum St. The price of the land is $593,000 of which $296,500 will come out of Community Preservation Act funding and the remaining from a reimbursement grant. The purchase of the property is contingent upon receiving the grant.

In addition, two bylaw changes are being proposed by the Planning Board. The first is requesting that minor wording changes being made to several sections of the town's zoning bylaws to make certain they are up to date. A Sign Bylaw is also being proposed that will replace the existing bylaw to help regulate and control signs in town.


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