SPENCER – Voters will decide on Tuesday (Sept. 12, 2023) whether to seal the deal for a $40,000 Proposition 2 ½ override that will help fund upkeep at the Pine Grove Cemetery.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Spencer Memorial Town Hall, 157 Main St. and the question is the only item on the ballot.
The move is the second needed to allow the town to help maintain the cemetery which is struggling financially. Voters initially approved the override at the Annual Town Meeting in May and a successful ballot vote must follow.
In May, Beth McPherson, who with her mother, Carol McPherson, led the petition to place the article on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant said the process has taken about 2 years. One proposal, which lumped care of Pine Grove, another cemetery, and town parks, was rejected by the Selectboard because of the high price tag.
An effort to hand over the cemetery as a gift to the town was too complicated, McPherson said.
And so, the last, and least expensive proposal, was a $40,000 override which will increase the tax rate by just under 3 cents per $1,000 valuation.
Residents who have family members interred at the cemetery said they fear that without the override, the burial ground would be overgrown and become a partying spot for young people.
Ralph Hicks, whose son is buried at Pine Grove, said his family owns several plots and he worried that it would become impossible to place flags on the graves of Veterans, some of whom he believes served in the Revolutionary War.
Others pointed out that some of the “Founding fathers” of Spencer are buried in that cemetery.
The $40,000 would raise the tax bill for a home valued at $240,000 by $7.20 a year, McPherson said at Town Meeting. The override will add the $40,000 to the town’s budget in perpetuity though votes will have to decide annually how to spend it.
An earlier version of this article stated, The override will add the $40,000 to the town’s budget in perpetuity though votes will have to decide annually how to spend it. While it is true that voters must vote on the town budget at the annual town meeting, the $40,000 may only be used for cemetery upkeep.