Easthampton voters approved a proposal to build a new school in town, and raise property taxes Tuesday.
Easthampton City Clerk Barbara Labombard told 22News the ballot question passed by 729 votes. Voter turnout was 42 percent.
The debt exclusion will fund the closing of four schools and construction of the new consolidated school, pre-K through eighth grade.
The proposal will replace the city’s three elementary schools and one middle school into a single school serving students from pre-K through eighth grade.
“The condition of our schools is really deplorable,” Kate Lilme, of Easthampton, said. “I think the children and the families of this community deserve a whole lot better than what they’re getting right now. We think it’s a good idea to consolidate and just kind of have all our resources in one place.”
The $109 million project would consolidate the Maple, Pepin and Center Elementary Schools, as well as the White Brook Middle School. But it would come with a cost — an increase in residents annual property tax.
The project would add an additional $600 to $900 to residents annual tax bills. But some wouldn’t mind paying more if that means building a new school.
Some residents, however, were concerned with the tax hike, like Steven Guyette — who lives off a fixed income. He said that’s just too much to be paying for something that he doesn’t think is necessary.
“I’m really not in a financial position to take another $600 or $900 a year hit on my taxes,” Guyette said. “Considering I am doing this from a fixed income position.”
Construction will begin in mid-2019.