Look for budget cuts, departments told.
PAXTON - Anticipating that a proposed Proposition 2-1/2 override vote on the school budget might not pass, the Finance Committee has asked town departments to make contingency cuts in their budgets of an additional $161,419.
Paxton rejected a previous override at the polls by a vote of 438-171.When voters passed the school budget last month, they made it contingent on an override vote of $181,546. The election will take place June 26.
The committee has asked 29 departments to make cuts. Most of them are for less than $3,000, but five departments have been asked to make larger cuts. The police department has been asked to cut $57,266; Highway, $30,655; Fire, $15,133; ambulance, $14,299; and the library, $10,734.
Passage of the Wachusett Regional School District's budget hinges on approval of at least four of the five towns. Holden, Princeton and Sterling have approved it, while Rutland has turned it down.
Even though the goal is to cut $161,419, Finance Committee Chairman Richard Fenton said that the committee is assuming that some budgets can't be cut, so it has set a goal of $142,000.
"We will adjust the final numbers," he said, "based on any new WRSD assessment if the override doesn't pass."
If the override passes, he said, "Paxton won't have to make any budget cuts, WRSD will have the larger budget they want and Rutland, being the only town to reject the school budget, will be forced into a larger budget deficit."
If the override fails, he said, "WRSD will be obliged to submit a reduced assessment to the five towns because Rutland has already rejected the WRSD budget. If the district reduces the Rutland assessment to a level that town has indicated it would support. "Paxton's assessment will put the town into a $142,000 deficit, which will be discussed at another town meeting and covered either by drastic budget cuts or by passage of yet another Proposition 2-1/2 override contingency.
"If the latter fails again, then the budget cuts proposed would take effect."
When the Board of Selectmen briefly discussed the proposed cuts Monday night, Chairman Peter Bogren called them "devastating numbers."
Selectman Frederick G. Goodrich said Paxton is heading toward "a school but no town ... we've got to stop that."