New Barrington Middle School depends on tonight's vote

Will residents vote to exceed the 4 percent cap?

Posted

There is a special financial town meeting in Barrington tonight, March 16, and the construction of a new middle school hangs in the balance.

The meeting — it will be held at the Barrington High School auditorium at 7 p.m. — will ask residents whether they support exceeding the state-mandated 4 percent tax cap.

Middle school supporters call for "Yes" vote.

Town officials would need to exceed the cap in order to afford the proposed increases in the school and municipal operating budgets and payments on the $68.4 million middle school bond.

Town officials have said there are a few reasons why there is a special FTM in March, prior to the normal May financial town meeting. 

"By holding a meeting in March, it is expected to save money," stated a release from town. "By moving this decision up approximately 8 weeks, it is hoped that: The Town will save money by securing a favorable interest rate on the bond since interest rates are rising. Waiting until May will expose us to greater risk of higher rates.

"The Town will avoid an escalation in construction costs which could be as much as $150,000 per month. If approved on March 16th, the construction funds could be available as early as April.

"The current construction timeline is ambitious and allows for occupancy of the new building at the beginning of the 2019 school year."

A quorum of 100 people is required for the special financial town meeting. As for the vote, the resolution need only pass by a simple majority. 

The annual bond payments are expected to be about $3.1 million. The bond will have a 25-year term and is expected to have an interest rate of 3.4 percent.

According to the press release, should residents vote to exceed the tax cap, there would still be a maximum "ceiling" to the potential increase. Officials said the ceiling would represent an 8.95 percent increase to the tax levy, or about $5.2 million more than the current total budget.

Anyone who needs more information about the special FTM — including folks who want to check on their status as registered voters — should call the town clerk's office at 247-1900.

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