At the Town election on April 11 there will be an important ballot question relating to the Diman Vocational Regional School new building project. The ballot question will decide if the payment of …
At the Town election on April 11 there will be an important ballot question relating to the Diman Vocational Regional School new building project. The ballot question will decide if the payment of Westport’s share will come from property taxes or from the town’s operating budget.
The estimated cost of the project is $293 million of which the state, through the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), will pay approximately 50 percent of total project costs. The balance will be paid by the participating communities who are Fall River, Somerset, Swansea and Westport. Westport is responsible for 5.3 percent of the non-reimbursed amount, estimated to be $7.8 million or an annual cost of $450,000.
A “yes” vote will allow the town to borrow money which will be paid through property taxes. That cost would be approximately $11 per $100,000 of assessed value, so for a property valued at $400,000, the annual cost would be $44. A property valued at $500,000 would be $55 per year, and so on.
A “no” vote would mean the cost would be borne by the annual operating budget and would further strain the town’s financial situation. Budget cuts would likely result and the magnitude of this cost on the budget would result in a reduction of town services, cuts to staff in all areas of local government including police, fire personnel, teachers and other departments. The town budget cannot sustain a reduction of this size.
This was previously voted on in the mid-term election and failed by a narrow margin. Feedback from voters indicated confusion on the question, in part because there were four other state ballot measures. The Select Board agreed that voters should have another opportunity to consider the Diman ballot question.
I hope you will vote YES on April 11.
Richard W. Brewer
Brewer is a member of the Westport Select Board.