Bourne Town Officials Pitch Override to Voters

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Scott From an of Sagamore Beach, who has lived in Bourne for more than 50 years and who is a retired teacher in the town of Plymouth, speaks in favor of an override at an informational session at the Sagamore Beach Fire Station last night.

Scott Froman of Sagamore Beach, who has lived in Bourne for more than 50 years and who is a retired teacher in the town of Plymouth, speaks in favor of an override at an informational session at the Sagamore Beach Fire Station last night.

SAGAMORE BEACH – Bourne town officials continued their tour of villages last night as they made a presentation in Sagamore Beach about the need for a $2.7 million tax increase.

Over the past several weeks, there have been presentations in Pocasset and Monument Beach and there will be presentations tonight, September 29, at 6:30 p.m. with the Cataumet Civic Association Meeting House on Barlows Landing Road, and on Thursday, October 1, at 7 p.m. at Bourne Middle School.

A couple dozen people attended last night’s presentation at the Sagamore Beach Fire Station and several comments came from people in support of the override. No one spoke against it.

The town’s voters will cast their ballots on Tuesday on whether to allow the Proposition 2 1/2 override in order to keep town services as they are in the town’s $57.7 million budget.

This is the third override the town has requested from voters since Proposition 2 1/2 was passed by the legislature in 1980.

Stephen Mealy, chairman of the Bourne Board of Selectmen, said the budget breakers in recent years have been the snow and ice budget; employee health insurance; and the rising regional technical school budget.

He said he expects the override vote to be close, as he believes the town’s residents are equally divided on the issue.

On the need for an override, Mealy said, the town has been using money in its free cash account to pay for the increases, but that account is now at a low of $3.5 million.

Without an override, the town’s deficit could grow to $14 million over the next five years, Mealy said.

To try to tighten the town’s purse strings, the administration instituted a hiring freeze last summer and is offering early retirement options.

“We’re approaching a very difficult time for the town and its finances. We’re talked about this coming for several years now. It’s here,” he said.

The original price tag for the tax increase was $2.9 million but that number was reduced.

“We’re tried to minimize impact. We’ve reduced it,” Mealy said.

The override will cost the average homeowner with a property assessed at $290,000 about $191 per year or 66 cents per $1,000 of valuation.

Mealy said he believes the override, which is a permanent tax increase, will stabilize the town’s finances for the near future.

“The override is expected to last through the next five years. but we’ve demonstrated through previous overrides that they can last ten years. We fully expect to try to do that again,” he said.

The last Proposition 2 1/2 override in Bourne was in 2005.

If the override is not passed, Mealy laid out the cuts that would be made.

“It will affect hundreds of residents,” he said.

Among the cuts will be the elimination of the summer lifeguard and summer swim lessons programs at all Bourne beaches; staff reductions at the Council on Aging; staff and hours reductions at the community center; staff eliminated from departments at town hall, including the department of public works; and the elimination of all human services funding.

Staff and hours reductions at the library will cause it to lose its certification and therefore its access to state and federal grants, Mealy said.

Bourne School Committee member Matthew Stuck said without the override, Bourne schools will suffer a setback, making them less appealing to families using the school choice program.

There will need to be a mid-year reduction of 5 staff members and another reduction next year of about five more staffers.

He said professional development and the student internship programs would be affected.

Special education services will also be impacted, Stuck said, making it more likely that children with special needs would need to be educated outside the district. That in turn could cost the district even more money, he said.

The special town election for the Proposition 2 1/2 override takes place Tuesday, October 6, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The polling locations are the following: for Precincts 1 and 3, the Community Center; for Precinct 2, the Sagamore Beach Fire Station; for Precincts 4 and 7, Bourne Middle School; and for Precincts 5 and 6, St Johns Parish Center.

Special Town Meeting for the override is scheduled for Monday, October 19, at 7 p.m.


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