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Plans proceed for Feb. 26 South Hadley special election

— Voters will face two ballot questions for a Feb. 26 special election — one to approved the borrowing to build a new school and another that seeks to change some elected town offices into appointed ones.

Absentee ballots for the election are now available in Town Hall in the office of Town Clerk-Treasurer Carlene C. Hamlin.

The town’s Financial Policy Advisory Team supports both ballot measures.

The first ballot question asks South Hadley voters to exempt the cost of borrowing to build a new $28 million Plains School from the Prop. 2 ½ property tax limit. The 267 Granby Road school is the town’s oldest and would be replaced by a new 63,000-square-foot building constructed on the same parcel of land.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has pledged to pay $15 million, about 63 percent of the cost of the new school, if South Hadley voters agree to borrow the full $28 million construction cost.

The second ballot question asks voters to separate the positions of town clerk and treasurer, held by Hamlin, and to change the offices of town clerk, treasurer and town collector from elected to appointed. The measure would also allow Hamlin and Deborah Baldini, who serves as town collector, to serve as elective officers until their terms expire in 2015, and to serve in their positions until they retire, resign, are removed for cause.

Voters at the Dec. 3 special Town Meeting approved the change. The state legislature approved the Town Meeting vote Dec. 31 and Gov. DeVal Patrick signed it Jan. 10.

Hamlin’s office is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Applications for absentee ballots must be made in writing.


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