Should we reconsider pursuing the Library Project during a challenging budgetary cycle?

Town residents have voted seven times on the funding, grant approvals and debt exclusion related the Library Planning and Design Grant and the following Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program Grant dating back to March 2012: 




March 26, 2012 ATM 

Capital of $20,000 to match Planning & Design Grant 


March 22, 2014 ATM 

Approved to Apply For, Accept & Expend Grant Funds [Planning & Design Grant] 

Passed by Majority  

March 28, 2015 ATM 

$35,000 Library Feasibility Study 


October 17, 2016 STM 

Approved to Apply For, Accept & Expend Grant Funds [MPLCP Grant] 


June 11, 2022 ATM 

$10,000 Library Cost Estimating 


October 17, 2022 STM 

Appropriate Funding for Library Expansion 

Yes: 436 
 No: 141 

November 8, 2022 

Question 2 Debt Exclusion Vote 

Yes: 6620 
 No: 4212 

As of mid-January 2024, Westford has spent $301,178.32 of the first grant disbursement from the State.

We contacted the Division of Local Services (DLS) to ask the mechanics to rescind a debt exclusion vote once it is passed, and under MGL Ch 59 Sec 21C, there is no process that expressly authorizes communities to rescind and approved debt exclusion vote.  A town meeting could vote to rescind a borrowing authorization to the extent that funds are unencumbered. This usually occurs after a project is completed. As shown above, spending on this project has already begun. The DLS noted that only a handful of towns have considered recission of a borrowing in the past.

If the library project does not move forward, the funds that we have spent from the State will have to be returned and we will have to budget for building repairs and maintenance that are not currently budgeted for.  We will also lose out on the $8.68M grant funding that the Town has been authorized to receive.

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1. What is an Override?
2. The Town passed an override in 2017. Why are we being asked to pass another one?
3. What is the amount of the override and how will that impact my taxes?
4. How do we ensure we aren't back in the same place next year or the year after asking for another override?
5. Do these fiscal challenges affect Westford in particular or are there other towns in the same situation?
6. Over a year ago, did we know about these upcoming budget deficits when the library expansion vote was on the table?
7. Should we reconsider pursuing the Library Project during a challenging budgetary cycle?
8. What financial supports exist for fixed income or low socioeconomic households?