Three debt-exclusion overrides on Southampton’s special election ballot 

  • The East Street Bridge in Southampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/16/2019 11:58:04 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — Residents will vote on replacing the East Street Bridge, purchasing a new town plow truck and making repairs to Norris Elementary School at a special town election set for Tuesday.

The funding for the three projects would be through separate Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion override questions, with a $1.6 million bond for the East Street Bridge to be paid off in 20 years, and a $250,000 bond for the plow truck and a $97,800 bond for the school, both to be paid off in 10 years. A debt-exclusion would put a temporary tax burden on property owners until the cost of funding a project is paid down.

The election will take place at the Senior Center at 210 College Highway, from noon to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots are available at the town clerk’s office.

Originally built in the 1930s, parts of the East Street Bridge are crumbling and the bridge is “extremely well worn,” Town Administrator Ed Gibson said Thursday.

The total cost of replacing the East Street Bridge will be $2.6 million, but Gibson said the town is leveraging a $1 million MassWorks grant it received in 2017 to complete the project. The debt exclusion would go toward funding engineering and design plans, acquiring easements, the demolition of the current bridge and construction of a new one.

The town received an extension from the state on the grant, which was originally supposed to be used by June 30 of this year, according to Gibson.

The town would pay yearly installments of $116,731 for the bridge’s bond, and it would add an additional 16 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The current tax rate is $16.31 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The average Southampton single family home is valued at $300,000, Gibson said, which would mean a yearly increase of $46.66 on taxes over the 20-year life of the bond.

Residents and commuters rely on the bridge as one of two key routes through Southampton, Gibson said, with the other being Route 10.

The construction would most likely begin in the spring or summer of 2020, if voters approve the bond, and it would take six to nine months to complete, according to Gibson. The town would hope to keep the bridge open with one lane during construction, but it is possible that a detour would be set up instead, Gibson said. The new bridge would include sidewalks, he said.

Truck and school repairs

The Department of Public Works’ dump truck has a body and frame that have rusted after 23 year years of snow and ice plowing. A new truck would serve the town for 12 to 15 years, according to Gibson.

The bond for a new plow truck would be paid in yearly installments of $30,844, with an increase of 4 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For the average single-family home, that would be a tax increase of $12.30.

Repairs to Norris Elementary School would include replacing sinks in science labs and classrooms for $9,000, new carpeting in several classrooms, at a cost of $28,500, replacing and repairing exterior doors costing $48,500, repairs to roof gutters, drains and drain scuppers, at a cost of $10,500, and masonry work for the front pillars costing $1,300.

The bond for repairs to Norris would be paid in yearly installments of $12,066, with an increase of 2.2 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For the average single-family home, that would be an increase of $4.81.

If all three ballot questions pass, the total increase for the average single-family home would be $63.77 annually, according to Gibson.

At the end of the fiscal year 2020, the bond payments for renovations to the Hampshire Regional High School (which was also approved as a debt-exclusion override) will be paid off, and the payments for the three debt-exclusion override questions on Tuesday’s ballot would take effect during the following fiscal year 2021. That means taxpayers will pay 14 cents less per $1,000 of assessed property value associated directly with debt exclusions than they currently do, according to Gibson.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com




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