Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Overrides and Exclusions:
Municipalities can raise tax revenue beyond annual statutory limits imposed by Proposition 2½ M.G.L Ch. 59 Sec. 21C through a referendum to approve an override or an exclusion, or they can reduce the amount taxed through an underride. With one exception, legal authority to place a question on the ballot rests solely with the board of selectmen, city council or town council.

Contingent Appropriations:
Towns only can approve a contingent appropriation (Ch. 59 Sec. 21C(m)) which is usually a single additional expenditure, or multiple appropriations made subject to subsequent voter approval of a funding source. Most often, that funding source is additional tax revenue raised through an override, debt exclusion or capital expenditure exclusion. While town meeting must approve the contingent appropriation, only the selectmen can actually place the referendum on the ballot for voter approval. When a contingent appropriation is approved at an annual town meeting, the related referendum must be placed before the voters prior to September 15. When a special town meeting approves contingent spending, the override or exclusion vote must occur within 90 days. In any case, a failed referendum may be returned to the voters on subsequent ballots, but if not approved by the applicable deadline, the appropriation is null and void.

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 39, section 10:

Section 10: Warrant; issuance; contents

Section 10. Every town meeting or town election, except as hereinafter provided, shall be called in pursuance of a warrant, under the hands of the selectmen, notice of which shall be given at least seven days before the annual meeting or an annual or special election and at least fourteen days before any special town meeting.

Since there is a good possibility of an override (s) question (s) going before Templeton voters/taxpayers, it seems important to ask why? Why more taxes now? The simple answer would be; because we need more money, simple as that. I believe that is all shown by the possible meals tax question, as in more taxes. Templeton gets monies to spend from property taxes, local reciepts and government aid, mostly state aid, which is simply some of your state tax dollars coming back to Templeton. It is kind of hard to do, but if one looks back at salaries and/or wages of Town employees back in 2015 and go through the years up to and including 2018, you may be able to track what has been spent in relation to what was taken in. It may be worth the time to see if the increases in Town spending outpaced 2 1/2% of property tax dollars collected by the Town. This would be fact based and would simply show what the selectmen put in front of voters at Town meeting. Remember, selectmen control the warrant and the budget presentation because they are elected.

So, selectmen have talked about more tax dollars wanted to pay for Town ALS service. It is also quite possible there will be statements made that we need more tax dollars to spend on school.

If and when anyone decides to look at Town spending, be sure to look at all labor or employment contracts because that is the spending of tax dollars and it all adds up. I would not expect Town meeting to have the option of adjusting things line item by line item at Town Meeting either. That seems to have taken away from you by the selectmen. They prepare and present the spending plan and they prepare and present the warrant.

You all should really attend the regional school district reorganization meeting, it is your money.