Selectmen prepare to set warrant for Special Town Meeting
| Chris Maza
WILBRAHAM – At a special July 23 meeting, the Board of Selectmen is expected to set the warrant for a Special Town Meeting at which the fate of two school building projects will be decided.
The Board of Selectmen called the Special Town Meeting on July 7 to ask residents whether or not to support the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District’s (HWRSD) involvement in an accelerated repair program sponsored by the Massachusetts School Building Authority
(MSBA) in order to repair the roof at Wilbraham Middle School and windows at Soule Road School.
“We’re presented with an opportunity to do something that we know we have to do,” Selectman Robert Russell said. “We’ve been in a position where we haven’t been able to take care of buildings in the past in the way we wanted to for a long, long period of time and now we’re given the opportunity to do it with a 47 percent contribution factor.”
The Special Town Meeting, scheduled for Aug. 18, would specifically address necessary bonding for feasibility study and schematic design costs and other construction expenses, all of which would be contingent upon the approval of a Proposition 2 ½ override vote, which would be part of the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
HWRSD Superintendent M. Martin O’Shea said based on MSBA projections, the projects would cost an estimated $3.7 million – $2.2 million for Wilbraham Middle School and $1.7 million for Soule Road School – with the MSBA reimbursing 53.7 percent of the total project costs.
Town Administrator Robert Weitz said the average increase in a homeowner’s property tax bill would be approximately $37 per year.
Beth Regulbuto, assistant superintendent for business, explained several things need to happen in order for the town and district to be ready to take on the project.
In addition to calling the special town meeting and the School Committee’s authorization of bonding associated with the project, which occurred on July 8, the selectmen would have to call for a referendum question regarding the Proposition 2 ½ override to be added to the Nov. 4 ballot.
The vote to add that question must be made by July 28 to allow the Town Clerk time to submit a certified copy of the vote to the state by Aug. 6.
On Aug 12, the School Committee would have to authorize bonding for the remaining construction costs.
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