Northborough votes tonight on whether to take Southborough to court

by susan on April 26, 2010

Northborough holds its annual town meeting tonight, and one of the things they’ll decide is whether to spend $100K to seek a declaratory judgment against Southborough over the ongoing Algonquin reimbursement battle.

Northborough and Southborough have been deadlocked for years now on how to split the debt assessment on the Algonquin renovation project. The regional school committee recently said they wouldn’t take sides in the dispute, so now it’s up to the voters.

I haven’t heard how much it might cost Southborough if Northborough decides to take us to court. At a regional school committee earlier this year, Superintendent Charles Gobron said the school would have to pay $20-30K in legal fees if the issue goes to court. Presumably, Southborough would have to pay even more.

More background on the reimbursement issue can be found in these posts. If you want all the gory detail, NorthboroNews.org did a two-part series on all of the events leading up to the current impasse. Here’s part 1 and part 2.

1 dean dairy April 27, 2010 at 1:32 AM

Unfortunately, it appears state law may supersede the district agreement when it comes to dividing the subsidy of state grants between towns.

In the case of regional school districts, MGL Ch 70B, sec 10 appears intended to overlay the existing district agreement by the allocating the state grant according to each town’s “reimbursement percentage,” as defined in that section, which takes into consideration differentiated “wealth and income” but not “poverty” factors.

Of course, read the statute and check the actual numbers against the state’s Byzantine formula, but otherwise my gut says take a compromise and avoid the legal fees if a Northborough votes to file a DJ.

Here are the two relevant portions of MGL Ch 70B, sec 10(b):

In the case of regional school districts, B1 [income factors] and B2 [wealth factors] shall be determined by calculating the relationship to the statewide average for each municipality of the regional district as stated in this section. For purposes of this computation, each member city’s and town’s share of the total cost shall be determined by multiplying the total approved cost by the percentage of district or county capital costs that would be apportioned to such city or town in accordance with the applicable regional school district agreement or law for capital costs incurred in the fiscal year in which the grant is approved.

Notice, B3, the “Community Poverty Factor,” is omitted above in calculating differentiated reimbursement percentages for each member town. Nevertheless, the second half of the paragraph deals with how the proceeds of the grant are apportioned between towns.

The amount of the total capital costs apportioned to a member city or town in any fiscal year on account of an approved school project of a regional school or county, determined in accordance with the applicable regional school district agreement or law, shall be reduced by an amount equal to the amount of the grant payable on account of such project in such fiscal year multiplied by a fraction the numerator of which is the city’s or town’s reimbursement percentage, determined as aforesaid, multiplied by the percentage of capital costs apportioned to the city or town for such fiscal year in accordance with the applicable regional school district agreement or law, and the denominator of which is the sum of the percentages so derived as the numerators for all of the member cities and towns.

http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/70b-10.htm

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