$5 million override put on ballot.


Byline: Kevin Keenan

SHREWSBURY - Selectmen last night unanimously approved putting a $5 million Proposition 2-1/2 override question on the May 1 annual town election ballot, in a bid to boost the town's operational spending for fiscal 2008.

An override would allow the town to raise taxes above the limit set by state law. If voters approve the question, it would cost the owner of the median single-family home about $30 a month more in property taxes next year, according to the town's data.

The board voted 4-0 to put the question on the ballot. One member, Thomas A. Fiore, was absent from the meeting last night, but he submitted a letter to Chairman John I. Lebeaux indicating his support for an override question this year.

Selectmen are billing the question as a three-year override, which means, if the question is approved, the tax levy limit will increase permanently by $5 million beginning in fiscal year 2008, though the selectmen will pledge not to ask voters for another override for at least three years.

"After three years, we're going to have to take a look," Mr. Lebeaux said. "This is not going to solve all our fiscal problems."

Town officials have warned that the override is necessary to maintain the existing level of town services, but that it will not solve the town's fiscal problems. The town does not collect enough revenue to cover its expenses, and Town Manager Daniel J. Morgado has forecast a $3.5 million budget deficit gap for fiscal 2008. Mr. Lebeaux said the passage of an override would still require the town to exercise fiscal restraint and prudent financial management to keep the current level of services.

Selectman Bruce Card said he supports the override "for the good of the town" but said he wasn't happy about it, and that the town needs to continue to restrain its spending.

Selectmen James A. McCaffrey said he also supports the question, and provided some figures showing what it will cost property owners if it passes. He said it will add an additional 97 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which translates to $360 more per year for the owners of median-assessed single family homes, which is $371,400. He said keeping the override's impact at below $1 per $1,000 of assessed...

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