PEPPERELL -- The Board of Selectmen listened intently to Finance Committee Chair Melissa Tzanoudakis Monday night as she underscored the financial plight of the town. With a school budget consuming any Proposition 2 1/2 increases, Tzanoudakis reiterated the need for the town to develop a long-term plan including stabilizing town finances, planning for target share assessments for the schools moving forward, and a capital plan.
"Part one is we have to get through this year," said Tzanoudakis.
"And our hope ... is to get this deficit as low as we can possibly get it and use free cash to balance this year and this year only," she said.
Tzanoudakis cited the need for a three- to five-year plan with enough in the budget without having to go back to the taxpayers each year.
"I think that we can all say that this year was a bit of a shock and I don't think there's anyone that could have planned for it in this particular year, but now that we know about it we have to deal with it," she said.
Tzanoudakis advised the board that a $695,000 override would be required to stabilize the financial health of the town, and that number would require the town to adhere to a "tight standard" over the coming years. That sizable override would equate to about $144 per year for the average household.
"We have no cushion in anything that we have in our budgets right now to deal with anything," said Tzanoudakis.
"At the end of the day, if we don't do something and do it right the first time, then all we're going to be
"If you're going to get something like this passed, you need a core of people that believe in it and it's not agenda driven, but believe in the overall aspect of it," said Town Administrator John Moak.
"If you don't have that core group, we're never gonna get anyplace," he said.
The board approved the reappointment of Alfred Buckley to the Nashoba Valley Technical School High School Committee for a three year term. The board also approved the appointment of Verdell Roberts to the position of kitchen manager for the Pepperell Council of Aging. Also receiving approval by the board was Alan Leao, who will serve a three- year term as director of Pepperell Community Media.
Moak received a thumbs up from the board to look into possibly surplusing a piece of town-owned property on Brookline Street. The property, which is part of a 74-acre tract where the Nissitissit School is located, has received the attention of developers in recent weeks.
"We need to be looking at a lot of things like this," said Selectman Michael Green.
"I think we should explore all of our options," added Selectman Stephen Themelis.