Westport voters approve tax hike for new $97M school building

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WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) — A plan to construct a new building to replace Westport’s aging middle and high schools has become a reality after residents gave it the go-ahead on Tuesday.

Voters approved a debt exclusion to finance a 30-year bond for the $96.8 million project, which includes a tax increase.

“It’s going to be difficult, I’m retired, but we have to educate our children. That’s the thing of the future,” said resident Sean Dooley, who spent Wednesday collecting signs urging residents to “vote yes.”

The new building will be built on the site of the former middle school on Old County Road and house students grades 5 through 12.

Westport Superintendent Ann Marie Dargon said the tax increase was necessary because new schools are needed now.

“It’s a financial burden, I know, but it’s also an investment in the future that our kids so desperately need,” Dargon said.

Westport Middle School was shut down in 2015 due to ongoing problems with PCB’s – chemicals that can have toxic effects on humans.

Under the plan, the town will cover $59 million and the remainder will be funded by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Taxpayers will see their bills increase a little more than $100 a year for every $100,000 at which their property is valued.

After the bond is paid off, residents’ taxes will decrease.

Dargon said she hopes to have the new building open by the 2021-22 school year.

Eyewitness News reached out to several members of a taxpayers group that was opposed to increasing taxes for the project but our calls were not returned.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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