David Scott, Chief of Police
59 Main St.
Pepperell, MA 01463
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Pepperell Police Chief Discusses Monday’s Selectmen’s Meeting
Voter Confusion May Have Marred Results
PEPPERELL — A town election official reported that several voters were unclear about what they were voting on during last Monday’s override vote.
Police Chief David Scott attended a standing-room-only selectmen’s meeting Monday night where officials needed to turn off the air conditioning so that residents packed in the conference room, overflow room and hallway could hear the proceedings.
After several residents voiced their opinions either for or against a potential re-vote of the $1.1 million override that failed by six votes last week, selectmen decided to hold a special town meeting to let residents determine whether or not there should be a new override vote. The special town meeting was tentatively scheduled by selectmen for September 2, 2014 with an override re-vote tentatively scheduled to coincide with the state primary election on September 9, 2014.
“Obviously, we are disappointed that the selectmen did not take advantage of their right to call for an immediate re-vote. They heard from multiple people, including a town election worker who stated that there was confusion regarding the override vote,” Chief Scott said. “The election worker advised selectmen that people were leaving the election after voting stating that they thought their ‘no’ vote was a vote against a gas pipeline coming through Pepperell. Another attendee at last night’s meeting admitted to being confused at the polls.”
Three or four people would have swung the decision in the other direction, but this confusion means that the Pepperell Police Department is now forced to deal with a reduced staff that includes their only detective working midnight shift patrols instead of performing his investigative duties.
Without the override, Pepperell loses two police officer positions as well as an administrative clerk position.
“This isn’t just about the police department,” Chief Scott said “It’s about basic town services like fire department, EMS, highway, the library, senior center, recreation, town hall — and the ability of the town to adequately perform these services.
“But the police department is taking the biggest hit. We already down four officers and have an officer going out for several weeks for surgery next month, so our overtime budget for FY15 is already off to a bad start.”
The Pepperell Police department has been functioning out of two temporary trailers in their front parking lot since March due to mold problems, and the failed override means a lack of funding to properly maintain the public safety complex and other town buildings,
The department is also unable to fund its drug abuse prevention programs.
Pepperell has had five drug overdose deaths since 2012, more than all of its neighbors, combined, and more than any other community in North-West Middlesex County. Locally in Massachusetts, only Lowell and Billerica had endured more overdose in the past three years.