We’ve talked a lot about the things that will be on the warrant at town meeting this year, but here’s one that won’t be.
For more than two years now the regional school committee has been trying to broker an agreement between Northborough and Southborough on how to handle debt from the Algonquin renovation. Last year they asked Town Meeting in both towns to approve a compromise plan. Northborough voters approved the compromise, but Southborough voters did not.
The regional school committee asked each town to put the compromise on the warrant again this year, hoping for a better outcome from Southborough. But that’s not going to happen. Southborough selectmen unanimously decided not to put the issue before voters a second time.
In a recent email to Superintendent Charles Gobron, Town Administrator Jean Kitchen wrote, “The Board felt that at last years town meeting the Southborough voters made it very clear that they were not interested in changing the regional school agreement on how the debt would be assessed.”
Those of you at town meeting last year will surely agree — the opposition to the compromise plan was resounding. At the town meeting, Selectman Bill Boland said he was “vehemently opposed” to the plan, and voters agreed.
At issue is how to split mortgage payments on Algonquin for the next 17 years. The regional agreement that has been in place between the town for decades says payments should be divided based on enrollment. But, Northborough argues that state laws (Chapter 70B) says socio-economic factors should come into play.
In an attempt to resolve the disagreement, the regional school committee proposed a compromise: calculate how much each town would may under the two methods and split the difference. Under the compromise, Southborough would pay $40K more per year for the next 17 years — for a total of about $680K — and Northborough would pay $40K less.
But both towns need to approve the compromise for it to go into effect, and that doesn’t seem likely to happen. So what’s next? The Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports today that Northborough is thinking about taking us to court.
As I constantly remind everyone who’ll listen, we in Southborough amended the Regional Agreement to more favorable to Northborough out of a sense of fairness. This continuing zero-sum attempt to renegotiate after the fact is infuriating and not how we deserve to be treated.