Byline: Karen Nugent
LUNENBURG - After four hours of discussion plus an hour lunch break, voters at yesterday's annual town meeting approved a $2.2-million Proposition 2-1/2 override, about half of which would supplement the School Department budget for next fiscal year.
However, the override also needs approval in the May 19 town election. If approved, it would cost the average single-family homeowner, with a house valued at $248,000, approximately $489 a year in additional property taxes, according to Mark S. Erickson, chairman of the Finance Committee.
The high school auditorium was packed as voters first approved a "balanced" town budget - not including the override - of $26.6 million. If the override is not approved in two weeks, cuts will be made to most town departments. Many of the 500 or so voters left after child-care service ended at 1 p.m.
Approximately $1.1 million of the override would go to the School Department; $550,000 to the Public Works Department for a new paving program; $89,000 to Town Hall; $35,600 to the library, $31,554 to the Police Department; $14,325 to the Council on Aging; and $5,463 to the Fire Department.
Town Manager Kerry A. Speidel told the crowd if the override is not approved, library, senior center and Town Hall hours would be reduced; police overtime and community policing would be cut, as well as call firefighters. The library would lose $12,000 in state aid if hours are cut and its membership in a regional lending system would end.
Department of Public Works Director Jack Rodriquenz said there is a $10 million backlog on road work in town.
"Nothing generates more concern and complaints than the condition of the roads," he said.
School Superintendent Loxi Jo Calmes said under the approved level-funded budget, 18 staff members, including three teachers would be let go, and there would be a 25 cent increase in...