May 132014

Dunstable Town Meeting voters overwhelmingly approved the Fiscal Year 2015 town budget on Monday, May 12, funding the town’s full $499,000 assessment from the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, contingent on a successful $200,000 Proposition 2.5 override vote next Monday, May 19.

With the support of the selectmen and Finance Committee, the town budget passed with little comment and no controversy. About 150 voters followed up the budget vote with overwhelming approval of a non-binding resolution to support the override.

“The school committee worked closely with the Dunstable select board and the advisory committee to come up with a joint plan for how to support the school’s assessment and minimize the impact on the town budget and taxpayers. In the end, we were all in agreement and presented a unified set of recommendations at town meeting, which the citizens of the town supported. But the story is not yet finished – the override question must also pass at the ballot box on Monday the 19th,” Jim Frey said. Frey is a Dunstable School Committee member and the SC’s Budget and Finance Committee Chair.

Should the override fail, the town would request a recertification of the school district’s $36M budget by the School Committee would perform. It would have the option to reduce its budget further, or leave it unchanged, but cannot increase it. The Dunstable Finance Committee would create a new budget based on the recertified amount and another town meeting would be scheduled to consider the redone budget.

The only audience question during the budget article discussion concerned the impact of the Affordable Health Care Act on the school’s budget. School Committee member Jim Frey said because all school district employees already have insurance, there was no direct impact.

Frey was hoping his town would choose quality education over a lower tax bill and pass the override. “It’s easy to say no. We hope there will enough people to say yes,” he said.

Frey chose not to run for re-election in this spring’s town election. Stephanie Cronin is running unopposed for the school committee seat.