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FAQ: Understanding the override, its rationale, and its impact

Why do we need an override?

The town’s projected expenses are higher than its projected revenues for fiscal 2021. The higher expenses this year are mainly due to salary and benefits increases.

Does the economic downturn caused by the pandemic have anything to do with the budget shortfall?

No, the budget shortfall was announced in February. The future economic impact of the pandemic was not known at that time and didn’t factor into the need for an override.

Does the override have to do with the town’s first debt payment for the new school?

No, the override is needed for the operating budget, not for the town’s debt payment.

What article is the override? I don’t see it in the warrant.

There is no override article. Article 3, the omnibus budget article, asks voters to pass the budget, which will be contingent on passage of a $320,000 override at Town Election (Ballot Question 1) on June 23.

What if we don’t pass the budget?

According to Town Administrator Tim Bragan, the Select Board would have to vote to use one-twelfth of fiscal 2020’s budget each month until a new budget could be passed. Time would be of the essence, because the first payment on the new school debt is due in August, and one-twelfth of last year’s budget would not cover that.

The town has already identified a list of what it would cut to balance the budget, and it would call a Special Town Meeting to vote on the balanced budget as soon as it could.

What if the budget passes, but the override question fails at the ballot box?

This would be a less dire situation since the budget would have passed. Bragan said the items on the override-failure cut list would remain frozen, and the town would vote on a revised budget either at a July or August Special Town Meeting or at the scheduled Fall Town Meeting in October.

If the override passes, will the items on the override-failure cut list be funded?

No. Even though the override would provide funding for those items, Bragan said the town anticipates a huge drop in state aid this year due to the pandemic, and more budget cuts will likely be needed at the Fall Town Meeting in October. The items on the override-failure cut list would likely be at the top of this new list. The town would block any attempt to use funds for anything on the override-failure cut list until at least Fall Town Meeting in October.

What is the tax impact of the override?

The override will add about $0.26 per $1,000 of assessed value to taxpayers’ fiscal 2021 tax bills. For a $500,000 home, that’s $130. The actual number will depend on the total value of all the residential and commercial properties in town at the end of this year.

—Joan Eliyesil

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