Rehoboth Will Pay $615,000 Annually for Bristol-Plymouth Project
Rehoboth voters will need to make tough choices regarding the town budget, Selectman Michael Deignan said Monday. Last week, voters rejected a debt exclusion to pay for the $305 million Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School construction in Tuesday’s election. The tally was 2017 in favor and 2896 in opposition. 441 ballots were left blank for that question. 5,354 voters, representing 53 percent of the town’s 10,172 voters, cast ballots.
“It’s sad that (the debt exclusion) failed because we still have to pay the bill,” Deignan said. “To add insult to injury, we just received last week notification from Bristol-Plymouth that the original amounts that they told us we were going to pay are actually going to be higher.” Deignan noted the town was legally obligated to pay a portion of the cost annually. The money will have to be appropriated from within the town’s tax levy limit.
The cost to the town will be approximately $150,000 for the first year, $450,000 for the second year, and $615,000 for the remaining years with no Proposition 2 and a half override to pay that debt. If the debt exclusion had been approved, Deignan estimated an extra $25 would have been added to residents’ tax bills for next year.
The board might decide to place another debt exclusion question on the April town election ballot. “I think this board as an entity has to remain neutral on the subject and just educate people to the best of our ability both pro and con,” Deignan added.
Chairman Skip Vadnais believes the voters should be asked to consider it one more time. “But if we have to source that money, I will not vote or participate in, undoing all that we’ve worked to do,” Vadnais said, noting he would be advocating for taking money from the regional school district. “I’m dead serious. The money’s coming from your educational pie. If someone out there has a better solution, talk to me.”
The building project was approved last March. Although the project was rejected in Rehoboth, there were enough votes for passage in the member communities which included Berkley, Bridgewater, Dighton, Middleborough, Raynham, and Taunton. There were 3,353 "yes" votes in favor of a new building, while 3,047 voted "no." The total "yes" votes amounted to 52.4 percent of the vote.
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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