AUBURN, Mass. – The Auburn Middle School project is now in the hands of the voters after the Board of Selectmen on Monday night approved the new school on West Street to be funded by debt exclusion.
The 4-1 vote from the selectmen means that a majority of residents would have to approve funding the project on a ballot question in the spring and also would require a two-thirds approval of Town Meeting members in the spring.
“I’m thrilled they made a decision this evening because now it allows us to simultaneously plan for a Town Meeting vote and a ballot vote,” Superintendent of Schools Maryellen Brunelle said. “Since we’re looking at a late February, early March vote, we’re going to want these warrants put together soon.
“And with the holidays, it was a wonderful vote tonight. I’m very happy.”
In June, the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Finance Committee approved the West Street option — the least expensive of five proposals — for Auburn Middle School. A new school there would cost Auburn $20 million to $25 million because “we haven’t yet determined the net debt to us,” Chief Financial Officer Edward Kazanovicz said.
The debt exclusion approval means that residents each year could be paying $66 to $78 for every $100,000 of real estate value in property taxes.
“But that’s not etched in stone yet,” Kazanovicz said. “We still don’t know how many years we’ll borrow at, and we don’t know the project cost yet. We could pay less than that, depending on the project cost. It’s a moving piece, so it won’t be determined for another three, four months.”
In addition, Auburn has agreed with the Masonic Lodge, the owners, on a purchase price of $325,000 for the 6.6 acres of land for a new middle school on West Street, Auburn Town Manager Julie Jacobson announced Monday night.
At the Town Meeting in October, Town Meeting members voted to appropriate $610,000 from general fund revenue to the stabilization fund, which would be used to purchase the land.
Now, Town Meeting members must approve taking $325,000 out of stabilization to purchase the land, which is contingent on approval from the Massachusetts School Building Authority and the town of Auburn on a new middle school.