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Selectmen discuss budget gap

By Carrie Fuller

HAMPDEN The Board of Selectmen met last week for the first time since Town Elections. The main topic of discussion was the proposed Proposition 2 1/2 override for the town. The town's budget requests total almost $9.2 million, and the town's expected revenue falls about a half million dollars short of that.

According to Board of Selectmen Chairman James Smith, the town's stabilization fund is no longer an option for filling such budget gaps.

"Every year we've gone deeper into our reserves," he said. "We no longer have any savings to dip into."

According to the Board of Selectmen, if voters do not approve the override, town officials will have no choice but to make significant cutbacks to services.

As previously reported, the Selectmen said such cuts could include closing the Library, Senior Center and Parks and Recreation Department, and making further cuts to departmental budgets which have been cut consistently for the past few years. The Police Department would not be unaffected by these cuts.

For homeowners with a house valued at $200,000, the Proposition 2 1/2 override would cause their property tax bill to increase by $254.

"I believe that the citizens in the community will realize that we need this and pass the override," Selectman Duane Mosier said.

Last week's Board of Selectmen meeting was the first for newly-elected Selectman John Flynn, who won the open seat in the Annual Town Elections just days before the meeting.