$39 million question to go before Wareham voters during November election
Wareham Selectmen approved a ballot question on Tuesday, July 17, which would provide funding for a new elementary school if passed by voters on Nov. 6. The new school is needed to replace both Minot Forest and Decas Elementary.
The question is a Proposition 2 1/2 exemption, which would allow the town to raise the state-imposed annual property tax ceiling, first imposed in 1982 to curb spending by cities and towns.
The question approved unanimously by Selectmen Tuesday night reads as follows:
"Shall the Town of Wareham be allowed to exempt from the provision of Proposition two-and-one-half, so called, the amount required to pay for the bonds issued in order to construct a new Pre-K through 4th Grade Elementary School on the existing Minot Forest School site, including the payment of all costs incidental or related thereto?"
The two schools are beset with structural problems and require significant upgrades for security, electrical wiring and fire safety. Additional classroom space, new windows, boilers, floors and ceilings are needed as well.
The $90 million plan for the new school was approved back in June by the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s board of directors. The board is set to reimburse Wareham approximately 75 percent of the school's construction at $56 million.
The town will have to pay approximately $39 million.
Selectman Patrick Tropeano praised the hard work of the School Building Committee during the meeting, noting that Selectmen should make a public document listing the project's savings.
"It's a lot of money," Tropeano said. "But when you see what it could have been, you realize this board has been doing a lot of hard work."
Tropeano also encouraged residents to contact Selectmen and the School Building Committee with questions directly.
"We want you to have the facts," Tropeano said. "I'll be more than happy to pick up the phone. If I can't give you an answer, I'll find someone who can."
"The town and the school aren't against each other in any way," added Selectman Alan Slavin. "This school is Wareham's future. We need people to remember that."