Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Southampton to hold Town Meeting to fix bookkeeping issue

— The town will hold a special Town Meeting Thursday morning to amend the budget passed at annual Town Meeting because of an error that is preventing the town from setting its 2013 tax rate.

At the meeting, which takes place at Town Hall at 10:30 a.m., voters will be asked to decrease the debt service section of the fiscal year 2013 budget, approved May 15, in the amount of $47,475.

This is due to a mistake in which the amount of money owed on the town’s loan for construction of the Edwards Public Library was counted twice, so the town actually owes $47,475 less than was budgeted, Treasurer Donna Whiteley said.

“The money wasn’t spent, but it needs to be fixed,” she said. The town must correct the budget for the current fiscal year before it can set its tax rate and send out tax bills by the end of the year.

Whiteley said she and Town Accountant Vicki Leigh Moro caught the mistake after the Department of Revenue informed the town that the tax rate, if assessed on the budget as passed, would be over the 2 1/2 percent increase allowed by state law.

She said she made the mistake because she looked at the wrong loan schedule after refinancing the William E. Norris School and library loans, a move which saved the town $22,000.

If the reduced budget passes at Town Meeting with a quorum of at least 25 people, the property tax rate will increase from $14.01 per thousand dollars of value to $14.44, Whiteley said.

Tax bills are due Feb. 1.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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