Overrides and debt exclusions go to voters

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Spring elections are in full bloom across Massachusetts, as are the perennial Proposition 2½ override and debt exclusion votes, which will continue through this month.
Public works and road funding projects have seen mixed results in votes so far this spring.
In Mattapoisett, voters approved a $500,000 debt exclusion to fund Phase VII of the town’s multi-year road rehabilitation plan, which was approved by Town Meeting in 2011 to create a system for repairing roads in poor condition and maintaining roads in good condition.
After receiving a $500,000 grant from the state’s Municipal Small Bridge Program, Ayer approved a $1.2 million debt exclusion to replace its 177-year-old West Main Street bridge.
Not all road-related ballot questions were successful, however. Rochester voters rejected a $1 million request for repairing and resurfacing High Street and another smaller road project.
A number of ballot questions are requesting funding for multi-town projects, for which each town must approve its share of funding for a project to move ahead. Voters in both Concord and Carlisle will decide whether to spend a total of $2.4 million to mitigate contamination from a landfill adjacent to the Concord-Carlisle High School. Both towns have authorized spending at their respective town meetings, and voters in each town will go to the polls in June to decide debt exclusions.
As of mid-May, 58 percent of towns with at least one override on their ballots have been successful. Most of the tax increases are for less than $1 million. The largest override approved so far is in Westford – $1.6 million for teacher salary increases. In June, voters in Milton will be asked to approve a total of $3.3 million to support the school and general operating budgets.
Of the five override losses so far, Norton had the largest: $2.2 million that would have been split evenly between the school and general budgets. The additional funds were planned for the Fire Department, Police Department, library, and the implementation of full-day kindergarten.
In 2016, there were 112 Proposition 2½ ballot questions in 78 cities and towns. Overrides last year had a 37 percent success rate, with 10 out of 27 communities approving at least one override.