The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted at its April 15, 2014, meeting to call for a Special Town Election on Tuesday June 3, 2014 from 7 AM to 8 PM for the sole purpose of asking the voters to consider a $5.5 Million Proposition Two and One-Half Operational Override question.
The Board also unanimously voted at the same meeting to convene a Special Town Meeting on Wednesday May 21 at 7 PM at which time it will propose to the legislative body that it approve a $5.5 Million contingent appropriation to the Fiscal Year 2015 Town Budget. The proposed contingent appropriation will designate that educational spending be increased by $4.2 Million and that various municipal departments and the capital budget are increased by $1.3 Million.
The Board chose to bring the question to the voters of Shrewsbury because it believes that the Town is right now at its most critical tipping point in over thirty years. The Board believes that now is the time at which the voters must determine if they wish to continue the levels of educational and municipal services with which all residents have come to expect and greatly value, or if they believe that such services are now simply too expensive to support, and accordingly that the Town should transform itself into a very different community with a much lower level of educational and municipal services.
Specifically the Board believes that in the area of public education the recent drastic increases in class sizes in our schools and the inability to provide the necessary materials and personnel to properly provide our students a twenty-first century curriculum are the principal reasons it has brought the override question to the voters.
In the area of municipal services the Board has actively supported the Town Manager’s aggressive and creative initiatives to reduce cost structures wherever possible through privatization, regional efforts and reductions in staffing. The municipal operation employs fewer staff today than it did in Fiscal Year 1998, while at the same time the Town’s population has grown 47.5% from 24,146 (1990) to 35,608 (2010) As a result the Board believes it is necessary at this time for certain targeted restorations in the Police, Public Buildings and Highway Departments. Similarly the Board believes the Town must address the chronic underfunding of the capital spending plan. Many critical capital elements have been deferred year after year in order to support the educational and municipal operations.
The Town has consistently assessed average residential tax bills in the low range when compared both regionally and to all Massachusetts towns of similar size and complexity. The Board fully understands the question’s approval will have impact on taxpayers, but even with approval the Town’s average residential tax bill will remain in that low range.
The Board of Selectmen believes that without approval of the override question the Fiscal 2015 Town Budget simply will not and cannot meet the needs of our community.
The entire April 15, 2014 meeting in which the Board discussed the override question may be viewed on demand at http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01028&video=192947
For more information, please contact the Board of Selectmen firstname.lastname@example.org