Decision Day for Bourne Voters on Tax Override

CCB MEDIA PHOTO 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.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
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.

BOURNE – Voters in Bourne will cast ballots today on whether to approve a $2.7 million 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 last week that the budget breakers in recent years have been the snow and ice budget; employee health insurance; and the rising regional technical school budget.

During a public forum, 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.

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

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.

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.

The polls for today’s special election are open until 8 p.m. A special Town Meeting for the override is scheduled for Monday, October 19, at 7 p.m.

By Laura Reckford, CapeCod.com Editor

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