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Citizens for Limited Taxation

Selectmen most likely will pass over underride idea October 23, 2003
Craig MacCormack Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- Selectmen are unlikely to pursue the possibility of a Proposition 2 1/2 underride on next spring's ballot, saying the fiscal crunch makes such a move too risky.

Harold Wolfe, one of the board's frequent critics, asked the board to back a $7.5 million underride in April, saying the money voters approved through last year's override couldn't have been spent well if it's all gone now.

"It's the government's turn to give the residents a break," Wolfe told selectmen during his brief statement.  An underride would allow taxes to drop townwide, while an override allows the increase to be more than 2.5 percent.

Selectman Esther Hopkins was particularly outspoken in her thoughts.

"I can't imagine what people would think of selectmen who made that sort of suggestion," she said.  "They'd think we lost our minds.  He's looking at it from a different perspective and not considering the whole picture."

Vice Chairwoman Ginger Esty doesn't expect Wolfe's idea to be supported by the board but she's not ready to dismiss it as a concept.

"We have so many expenses that are fixed by contract, so I'm not sure if it's in the realm of possibility," she said.  "It sounds great, but how do you do it? Maybe he could show us how that could be done successfully."

Selectman Katie Murphy, who campaigned for last year's override and backed the high school override in 2000 and failed Community Preservation Act in 2001, sympathized with Wolfe's plea but doesn't support it.

"I understand what he's saying, and I know there are a lot of people who still don't have jobs, but bills still need to be paid," she said.

Town Manager George King doesn't expect to see an underride question on the spring ballot.

"I don't see a groundswell for it," he said.  "I don't think it would come close to passing.  I would be happy to see it on the ballot and define what $7 million less in services would be.  Then we'd see if people support it."

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