June 9 Special Election

****SEE JUNE 9th ELECTION RESULTS UPDATE HERE****

 

The Board of Selectmen has asked Winchester voters to pass a debt exclusion override at a special election on June 9, 2015** to provide funds for the three Skillings Field projects. The override request takes the form of two questions (CLICK HERE for 4/30/15 memo re ballot questions):

Question 1:

Shall the Town of Winchester be allowed to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and one-half, so called, the amounts required to pay for (i) the bonds to be issued for the Aberjona River Flood Mitigation Project 6, consisting of design, permitting and construction of a supplemental culvert and surface floodway at Skillings Athletic Fields, including all costs incidental and related thereto, and (ii) the bonds to be issued for the design, permitting, and construction of the environmental remediation of Skillings Field, including all costs incidental and related thereto.

The combined cost of these two projects is conservatively projected to be approximately $11.45 million ($7.45 million culvert, $4.0 million environmental remediation). Costs could be reduced by as much as $2 million depending on soil quality, but this will not be known until the environmental remediation has begun. If the projects were carried out individually, the total cost would be about $12.1 million ($7.9 million culvert, $4.2 million remediation).

On April 27, 2015, Town Meeting voted to appropriate funds for both of these projects.  The culvert project passed 132 to 25; the remediation project passed 146 to 11.

Question 2

Shall the Town of Winchester be allowed to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and one-half, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds to be issued for the design, permitting, and construction of synthetic turf athletic fields consisting of a baseball diamond and rectangular multi-purpose field at Skillings Field, including original equipment, lighting conduit and landscaping, and all other costs incidental and related thereto, provided that any vote hereunder shall not be effective unless the Town votes to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and one-half, so called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds for the Skillings Field supplemental culvert and environmental remediation projects to be voted under Question 1 above?

This cost is projected to be $1.65 million if performed in conjunction with the Question 1 projects and the WHS reconstruction work. (The stand-alone cost would be $1.8 million.)  Executing the ball field synthetic turf upgrade contemplated by Question 2 is conditional on passage of Question 1. This is because if not performed in the near future, both the environmental remediation and the culvert installation would need to be undertaken at some point down the road. It would not be a wise use of taxpayer funds to install a synthetic turf field that would later need to be disrupted for those other projects.

On April 27, 2015, Town Meeting did not approve the appropriation of funds to pay for the synthetic turf project with 91 votes against appropriation and 59 votes for appropriation.  The Board of Selectmen has decided to keep Question 2 on the 6/9 ballot because it believes that Winchester’s voters should be able to consider whether they would like to vote to pay additional tax dollars to pay for an upgrade of the Skillings baseball field to synthetic turf, with a multi-sport design for the outfield.  See FAQ page for more detail on the respective roles of the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting.

If all three projects are funded by the override and undertaken with the WHS work, the savings will be approximately $800,000 compared to carrying out the projects individually. For an average household ($872,100 home value) in Winchester, the two proposed override questions would have an annual tax impact of approximately $113 (Question 1 — $99; Question 2 — $14).[1]

On the Town’s website and HERE on this website you can also find copies of presentations, background memoranda and FAQs regarding the projects.

[1] This estimate is for illustrative purposes only. The actual tax impact will depend on a variety of factors such as borrowing terms and time of borrowing.

 

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