Mendon Residents to Vote on Four Overrides
By Michelle Sanford Staff Reporter/Columnist · May 06, 2011
A total of four Proposition 2 ½ overrides totaling approximately $2.17 million will come before Mendon voters during the May 6 Annual Town Meeting. Of the four overrides, three are debt exclusions. An override results in a permanent increase to residents' taxes while the additional amount for a debt exclusion is added to the tax bill only for the length of the debt.
According to town officials, a $929,979 Proposition 2½ override is needed in order to close the municipal side's $409,647 shortfall. The remaining amount of $520,332 must go toward the Regional School District's budget. For Fiscal Year 2012, the School Committee requested $7.13 million from Mendon.
School Committee members have explained that the Regional School District is facing large increases in transportation, healthcare, heating oil, and special education programs. That, compounded by the fact that state funding is likely to remain flat for Fiscal Year 2012, is adding to the schools' financial troubles. Last year, state funding was $700,000 less than in Fiscal Year 2009.
The municipal side is also facing a budget gap and without the passage of the override, many services in town will be reduced or eliminated including public safety personnel, ambulance service, maintenance to town roads, the town beach, the children's summer reading program, van rides for seniors, and several town positions.
After the $929,979 override amount was determined, the Finance Committee realized an accounting error was made during the budget process. As a result, even if the override passes, Mendon is still facing an approximate $168,000 shortfall and therefore, some cuts will still occur.
Estimates show residents who have a home valued at $400,000 will see an increase of $477 to their annual taxes and a $300,000 home will pay an additional $358.
In addition to the Proposition 2 ½ override, three debt exclusions will be voted on that evening.
Article 20 is for a multipurpose sidewalk utility vehicle for the Highway Department totaling approximately $120,000. The town's current vehicle is more than 40 years old and caught fire three times throughout the winter. Estimates show that residents with a home valued at $300,000 will add $10 more to their taxes and a $400,000 home will pay $13 more over the five-year lease.
Article 21 is for $150,000 to purchase a new pumper/tanker truck for the Fire Department. With a grant of $190,000 already in place, the debt exclusion will fund the remaining amount needed. The Fire Department was forced to take a 40 year old, 2,000 gallon tanker/pumper out of service. As a result, the Department is currently short one emergency response vehicle. Estimates show the debt exclusion will add an additional $9 to $300,000 homes and an additional $12 on homes valued at $400,000 over a five-year note.
And Article 22 is a debt exclusion for a project at Miscoe Hill School to repair the roof, windows, and boiler which totals $976,525. The roof at Miscoe leaks in a number of sections, the boilers are more than 20 years old and deteriorating, and the windows to be repaired were installed more than 50 years ago. A $300,000 home will pay approximately $53 more on their tax bills and a home valued at $400,000 will add $71 over a ten-year bond.
The total tax impact for all four debt questions is estimated at $430 for a $300,000 home and $573 for a $400,000 home. The overrides must be voted on twice; one at the Town Meeting and the second during the May 17 Town Election as ballot questions.