Spending Control Citizen Petition Defeated
The request was on Saturday's annual town meeting warrant.
A citizen petition that proponents said sought to control Westborough’s spending for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 was defeated by a majority of voters at Saturday’s annual town meeting at Westborough High School.
Selectmen Chairman Ian Johnson said the voters at the town meeting “can’t really bind ourselves” to “future town meetings.”
He said Westborough’s tax rate won’t be set until October or November.
“What the proponent here, in our eyes, is asking for, is really impossible to do,” Johnson said.
The warrant article sought “to see if the town will vote to limit the tax rate for FY15 and FY16 to 0 percent increase or less over FY14 tax rate,” proponent Dominic Capriole said.
Capriole said the matter of the article not being binding was not a problem, “because this is not meant to be an imposition on future town meetings. It’s meant to be an advisory nature.”
Capriole said the fiscal year 12 tax rate was $19.21. And while the fiscal year 13 tax rate won’t be set until later this year, “it’s my belief, personally, that it will be very close to the tax rate for FY12. Which in effect means that” voters ‘just accomplished what I’m suggesting we go forward and accomplish again.”
“Selectmen, through the town manager, tried to set a guideline, a goal, of 2 percent total increase. Unfortunately, the board of selectmen and the town manager do not have reign over all budgets in town. But, you do. Town meeting does. So a directive from town meeting is universal,” he said.
During this town meeting, “not $1 of expenditure request was modified,” Capriole said.
“I’ve heard people suggest we can go to town meeting and modify our spending. Well, it didn’t happen at this town meeting,” he said.
Advisory Finance Committee Chairman Edward Behn said the estimated tax rate in the 2012 annual town meeting booklet was $19.71. The tax rate ended up being $18.97, a “74 cents difference.”
“Once again, it just underlines the inability for us with any degree of accuracy to really predict tax rates going forward,” Behn said.
Resident Stephen Faris said approving the citizen petition “can’t hurt.”
“We want to put a limit on how much spending is going on,” Faris said.