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Why Wachusett School Budget Hinges on Paxton

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

 

After voting down a $366,000 override for its school department assessment last week, voters at Paxton’s annual town meeting decided 123-70 to consider a lesser amount in a second override vote to take place in 35 days.

The town meeting vote approved $5,109,475 for the Wachusett Regional School District, and authorized another $181,546 if that amount is approved by a ballot override vote.

School Committee member Robert Pelczarski’s attempt to remove the contingency from the school funding was ruled out of order.

Finance Committee chairman Richard Fenton told the 200 people in attendance that the override plus the annual tax increase of 2 ½ percent will be approximately $250 per year for a home valued at $300,000.

“We’re leaving the decision up to you,” Fenton told the town meeting.

Rutland's Vote

This decision, along with Rutland’s approval of a school assessment of $8,804,118, means that the Wachusett Regional School Committee’s budget of $79,284,670 is jeopardy.  Rutland, which has historically had difficulty paying for its share of the school district, authorized $95,000 less than the school department requested at its town meeting on Saturday.   Like Paxton, an override request in Rutland to fund school operations failed as part of the annual town election.

For the Wachusett School budget to pass, four of the five towns must approve it. Princeton and Sterling town meetings gave their blessing to the $79.3 million budget last week; Holden also approved it last night.

If Paxton approves the override, then the requested school budget will have four towns that approved the $79.3 million budget, and Rutland will be forced to pay the additional $95,000 it removed from its assessment.

Pandiscio Supports Override

School Superintendent Thomas Pandiscio told Paxton voters that refusing to approve the budget would not block the budget from moving forward.

“The School Committee would likely back into Rutland’s number,” Pandiscio said, “And then Paxton would be the fifth town, and town services would have to be cut. It is in everybody’s best interest to get behind this override to protect town services.”

The date for the town’s override vote was not set. By law, it may not be any earlier than 35 days from the annual town meeting

 

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