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State funds may not be enough

Towns may still have to pay portion of special election costs

April 19, 2011
CHARLTON — Although it was widely stated before the primary that 6th Worcester District towns would get state money to fund the special election, exactly how that process will work is still somewhat uncertain.

"This whole election is quite the anomaly," said State Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre), chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, which typically oversees budget issues.

Earlier this month, the governor signed a supplemental budget that includes $51,183 to cover such expenses. But Brewer described that as "a good faith guesstimate of what the communities' exposure is," which won't be known for sure until everything's done and certified.

Under normal circumstances, a special election has a built-in source of funding — the salary account for the outgoing officeholder, he said. In this case, though, Rep. Geraldo Alicea is still in office pending a final vote, so the money has to come from elsewhere.

In the district — which is comprised of Southbridge, Charlton, East Brookfield and precincts in Oxford and Spencer — some are concerned that will, at least initially, mean dipping into town funds. That's especially a worry in Spencer, where Town Clerk Jean Mulhall has asked for around $10,000 in the budget. She did so, in part, because state and town elections are the same day: she chose to extend the duration of the town election (normally held in the afternoon) to match the special election (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

Janines Frostee
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