Easthampton voters head to the polls for school project override - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Easthampton voters head to the polls for school project override

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

Voters have been heading to the polls in Easthampton all day long as they decide whether to borrow tens of millions of dollars to build a new consolidated elementary and middle school.   

A 'yes' vote would allow a portion of the project to be financed with local property tax dollars.

Many in the community support the proposal, but others share concerns about an increase in taxes.

Those who are voting 'yes' to this override said that the elementary schools and middle school, like White Brook, are outdated and lack key safety and technology features.

However, those against the project cite concerns over an increase of several hundred dollars in their property taxes if this passes.

In Easthampton on Tuesday, voters will either approve or reject increasing taxes to fund a new $109.3 million consolidated middle and elementary school.

If passed, the project would combine four schools - Maple, Center, and Pepin Elementary with White Brook Middle School - into one building that would be located on the current middle school grounds. 

"The elementary schools are so tired.  All of them being pushing a hundred plus years old," said Ellen.
Ellen told Western Mass News that her daughter went to Maple Elementary:

"While the education was wonderful, the school was tired," Ellen added.

Ellen said that she supports a new school despite an increase in taxes.

"It’s a necessary evil to get a good school.  Yeah, I’ll pay the taxes," Ellen explained.

City officials have said the taxpayer impact of the new school would be $2.98 to $3.84 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Based on the average home assessment in the city, which is $228,400, that could mean an annual increase of $650 to $877 in taxes.

That doesn’t include any tax increases which are allowed by the state each year of up to two-and-a-half. 

Some residents are concerned about the taxes.

"Taxes are going to go up," said Helen Burgielewicz

Burgielewicz has lived in Easthampton for three decades and said that the vote could have a financial impact.

"A long time, for a lot of people.  Everyone has to live, but the kids need the education," Burgielewicz added.

The polling places - which are at the middle school for precincts 1, 2, and 5 and at the high school for precincts 3 and 4 - are open until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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