Regional school committee votes to put assessment compromise before voters again

by susan on November 23, 2009

For two years now the towns of Northborough and Southborough have been at odds about how to assess debt payments for the Algonquin building project. A compromise plan put forward by the Regional School Committee was overwhelmingly rejected by Southborough voters at town meeting last April.

At their meeting last week, the school committee decided to try their luck with Southborough voters one more time. The committee voted to put the same compromise plan back on the warrant for town meeting next April.

School committee members have their work cut out for them if they hope to change the minds of Southborough voters. Sentiment at town meeting last year was decidedly against the compromise plan, with both residents and town officials speaking out against the proposal.

Southborough has said debt should be assessed based on enrollment, as per the Regional Agreement between the towns. Northborough argues that state laws (Chapter 70B) says socio-economic factors should come into play.

The compromise proposed by the Regional School Committee — a split the difference approach — asks Southborough to pay $40K more per year for the next 17 years than they would under the Regional Agreement, for a total of about $680K. Northborough would pay $40K less per year.

It’s probably not a surprise that Northborough voters approved the compromise plan at their town meeting last April, but without Southborough’s consent, the plan cannot go forward.

If Southborough voters once again reject the compromise, Northborough will likely take the issue to court.

For more information on the Algonquin debt assessment issue, click here.

1 dean dairy November 23, 2009 at 10:34 PM

What section of Chapter 70B supposedly applies here?

2 Kelly Roney November 24, 2009 at 1:47 PM

It’s infuriating that Southborough agreed to changes in the Regional Agreement to be fair to Northborough on cost allocation and now Northborough is threatening to sue for even more.

3 Matthew Brownell November 25, 2009 at 7:54 AM

It is an interesting legal question. Does 70B prevail, or the specific contract that Southborough and NBRO executed?

4 Mimi22 November 25, 2009 at 8:44 AM

Why did the towns negotiate a specific contract if state law was in place to regulate the matter? The fact that a separate contract WAS negotiated points to the fact that the contract was more specific to this particular project and should, in my opinion, take precedent. Now Northborough is trying to rewrite history and that is not fair, or in this case, legal. A contract is in place which both parties agreed to. It should stand.

5 Kelly Roney November 29, 2009 at 10:34 PM

The precedent that Northborough is citing was ruled by the SJC in another case after our towns amended our Regional Agreement. If memory serves, the facts of the other case were somewhat different – more than two towns in the region, no negotiation over their agreement – so no one really knows what the outcome would be of a suit by Northborough.

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