November 2, 2022 By Carol Britton Meyer
The three warrant articles on last night's Special Town Meeting agenda -- for a proposed new Foster School and new public safety facility and the creation of a special stabilization fund to help alleviate some of the associated tax impacts -- passed with flying colors. The meeting wrapped up in about two hours.
Of the 1,363 citizens who attended, there was only one "nay" vote for each of the projects and no "nays" for the stabilization fund warrant article.
The required two-thirds vote was achieved by voice vote for all three articles, and among the speakers, no one spoke in opposition to any of the three warrant articles.
A majority ballot vote on Nov. 8 -- including mail-in, absentee, and early-voting results -- in favor of either or both proposed projects is required for either or both projects to move forward.
Based on the Massachusetts School Building Authority's approved total project budget for Foster School of $113.3 million and an expected 40.54% partial reimbursement from the state, the town's share would be about $88.7 million. Voters are being asked to appropriate the full amount upfront.
Ultimate approval of the Foster School project would result in an average property tax increase of about $396 per year for the median assessed property value of $739,400.
Under Article 2, STM voters were asked to appropriate an amount of up to $46.7 million for a new public safety facility, with an anticipated property tax impact of about $258 per year.
This project also affects the needs of the Senior Center. The 2020 Annual Town Meeting authorized funds to redesign this facility, incorporating space at Town Hall currently used by the Police Department if the public safety facility project moves forward. Work would not begin on the Senior Center until the Central Street Police Department has been vacated.
A third warrant article sought approval to transfer $7 million in excess unassigned fund balance to create a Capital Project Cost and Debt Service Stabilization Fund to help defray the cost of these projects if one or either of them moves forward after the Nov. 8 ballot vote.