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Four local towns to take up tax breaks

Voters in at least four area communities will be considering proposed property tax increases when they cast ballots in Tuesday’s election.

In Georgetown, Hamilton, Newbury, and Wenham, the state election ballot includes local questions that would allow the towns to exceed their annual property tax limits set under the state law, Proposition 2 ½.

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The proposal in Georgetown is for a debt exclusion, or a temporary tax increase, to fund the town’s $25.6 million share of a $46 million project to construct a new Penn Brook Elementary School.

Town Meeting on Thursday authorized full funding for the project, with the Massachusetts School Building Authority in line to reimburse the town for 54.76 percent of eligible costs, according to town administrator Michael Farrell. The vote was contingent on passage of the debt exclusion, which would add $829 to the tax bill of a home valued at $500,000, or $415 for a home valued at $250,000.

The building authority MSBA agreed last month to provide funding for the project, subject to the town appropriating the full amount.

Town Meeting met another condition of the authority funding when it appropriated $85,000 to study the building needs of the Middle/High School, for which the state will provide about 50 percent reimbursement, Farrell said. The plan for the Penn Brook project calls for moving the sixth grade from the middle/high school to the Penn Brook.

Newbury voters will consider a $293,000 override, or permanent tax increase, for various operating costs, including $100,000 apiece for the Police and Fire departments, $34,000 for culture, recreation, and the library, $30,000 for the Finance Department, and $29,000 for the Public Works Department.

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The added funds would largely be used to restore cuts that were made in the current fiscal year budget, according to assistant town clerk Susan Noyes. A Special Town Meeting on Oct. 23 appropriated the $293,000 subject to passage of the override.

Hamilton and Wenham will both take up debt exclusions to fund a total of $2.1 million in repairs to facilities in the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District.

The first would fund the $575,000 repair of the Cutler Elementary School roof, of which the towns are eligible for 43.3 percent reimbursement from the building authority. The second is for $1.5 million to replace the Winthrop Elementary School   roof, install insulation, windows, and a fire suppression system at the Buker Elementary School, windows at the Cutler, and to do other repair and reconstruction work.

The funding was approved by special town meetings in Hamilton Oct. 13 and Wenham on Oct. 27 subject to passage of the debt exclusion, said Hamilton town clerk Jane Wetson.  

Adoption of the two overrides would cost average homeowners $31.54 in Hamilton and $32.62 in Wenham, according to the district. In fiscal 2012, the average home was valued at $461,200 in Hamilton and $536,100 in Wenham.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com

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