Good News for Rehoboth?
The addition of Freetown to the Bristol-Plymouth Regional Vocational Technical School District could mean a reduction in the amount of money Rehoboth residents will have to pay for construction of the new Bristol-Plymouth High School.
Last April, voters rejected a debt exclusion, which is a temporary tax increase, to pay for the town’s share of the $305 million project.
Selectman Michael Deignan explained the town would have to pay between $550,000 and $600,000 annually.
“There really is no way for us to absorb that in the town budget without making significant cuts to town services,” Deignan said. “We are obligated to pay that debt service to Bristol/Plymouth. If we don’t pass (the debt exclusion), we’re going to be in a world of hurt financially.”
The building project was approved in March 2022. Although the project was rejected in Rehoboth, there were enough votes for passage in the member communities which at the time included Berkley, Bridgewater, Dighton, Middleborough, Raynham, and Taunton.
In an August 21 letter from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to Dr. Alexander Magalhaes, the Superintendent-Director of Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School District, Commissioner Jeffrey Riley stated: “I am pleased to approve the amended (regional) agreement and the enlargement of the District to include the Town of Freetown. The effective date of the admission of the Town of Freetown to the district will be July 1, 2024.”
“That’s going to change our formula,” Selectmen Chair Skip Vadnais said Monday. “That’s going to change what we may or may not owe.”
Vadnais intends to ask the town’s Chief Financial Officer to review the DESE letter and calculate the financial impact on residents.
“It should be a reduction because there’s more people that are sharing in the capital and transportation (services),” Vadnais added.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority provided authorization for a Project Funding Agreement for the Bristol-Plymouth project in September 2021. The agreement includes reimbursement of 62.25 percent of eligible project costs up to a maximum reimbursement amount of $125, 569, 759 toward construction of a modern Bristol-Plymouth school facility.
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