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Recount today for tied Northfield override

NORTHFIELD — The town will carefully go over every ballot cast in a recent Proposition 2½ override vote in a recount this afternoon.

Starting at 1 p.m. in Town Hall, each of the 524 ballots from the July 8 vote will be recounted by hand. The public is welcome to watch from outside the counting area and up to 10 observers — five for the override and five against it — will be allowed inside.

The override vote was taken to see whether the town would pay a $4.17 million share of the four-town Pioneer Valley Regional School District budget. Annual town meeting voters approved the amount, contingent on the outcome of the override.

The override was required because the school budget, when added to the general budget and capital articles approved at town meeting, would require the town to increase taxes more than allowed by state law.

Assistant Town Clerk Daniel Campbell said he expects the recount to confirm the tie vote.

“In the original vote, we didn’t have any blank or damaged ballots,” Campbell said. “It’s probably going to come out pretty close, if not exactly the same.”

A tie vote would mean that the override is defeated — for the time being.

If the vote remains a tie, Selectboard Chairman John “Jack” Spanbauer said the board will discuss the possibility of holding a second override vote to more definitively decide the matter.

If the override ultimately fails, the town’s approved share would revert to the $3.87 million included in the town’s omnibus budget. The town would still have to come up with about $126,000 more, because of the amount Bernardston approved for its share of the budget.

The school budget requires the approval of three towns to pass.

While Leyden and Warwick approved their full requested amounts, Bernardston’s town meeting approved $2.45 million rather than the $2.62 million the district requested.

With Bernardston voting less than requested, but proportionately more than Northfield’s default amount, a new budget could be approved based on Bernardston’s figures.

That would leave the district short about $650,000. The School Committee can, however, come up with a revised budget proposal to submit to towns. This would require a special town meeting in Northfield and Bernardston.

If today’s recount results in the passage of the override, however, the full budget will be approved.

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