By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – The Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen voted unanimously April 15 to hold a Special Town Election for the sole purpose of asking the voters to consider a $5.5 million Proposition 2-? operational override.
This issue has been brought the voters several times since 2004, only to be defeated each time.
At the March 18 selectmen's meeting, the board heard from nearly 30 people on the topic, with all but two urging an override to both save the schools and certain town services.
The selectmen's written response was made available at the regular April 22 board meeting. The proposed appropriation, if approved, will be mostly given to the schools ($4.2 million), with the remaining $1.3 million made available for town departments and the capital budget.
According to its statement, the board believes the town is at a “tipping point,” wherein voters must decide upon what level of services they wish to enjoy going into the next fiscal year and beyond. The alternative, they said, is “a very different community with a much lower level of educational and municipal services.”
Specifically, they continued, the recent drastic increases in school class size and paucity of materials and personnel for the schools must be relieved through an increase in taxation.
Stating that the tax rates in Shrewsbury remain below average for a town its size in this area, they concluded that even with tax increases, “the town's average residential tax bill will remain in the low range.” They noted that without approval of the override question, “the Fiscal Year 2015 budget simply will not and cannot meet the needs of our community.”
The selectmen have made the entire April 15 meeting available at http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01028&video=192947.
In conjunction with this planned town meeting and vote, the board appointed principal proponents and opponents for the Special Town Election.
The principal opponent and principal proponent are the ones whose statements pro and con are included in the booklets explaining issues to be voted upon that are mailed to all town voters before a meeting or election.
Chris Kirk, chair of Shrewsbury for Responsible Taxation, will be the principal opponent.
The principal proponent will be Robert Holland of Community Supporters for Shrewsbury.
The Special Town Election will be held Tuesday, June 3. Voting will be open to registered voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.