Amherst Select Board
Only figure mentioned last night was "$30 to $35 million"
With almost no discussion the Select Board rolled the dice last night and unanimously voted to place on the November 8th ballot a blank check Debt Exclusion Override rumored to be in the $30-$35 million range.
That is of course if it comes in on budget. And we know how super reliable government building projects are at coming in on budget.
Since the authorization from the voters simply says the town can have enough money to construct "two co-located schools on the Wildwood site" that means no matter what the projected/estimated amount is, the taxpayers are clearly on the hook for any cost overruns.
The less than dynamic presentation to the Select Board included a brief presentation from the Wildwood Building Committee and Amherst School Committee Chair Katherine Appy, who admitted the School Committee never voted on a formal request to the Select Board regarding the Debt Exclusion Override.
Embattled School Superintendent Maria Geryk was not at the meeting.
The main reason the Select Board is hurriedly placing this epically important question on the the November 8th ballot (although they have until August 1st to do so) is to save $20,000 it would cost to hold a special election.
But long time Town Meeting member and poll worker Hilda Greenbaum pointed out this coming election is going to be overwhelming the Town Clerk's office as it is with the Presidential contest and marijuana legalization question already on the ballot.
And since this is such a vitally important issue, paying $20,000 for a stand alone election a little later in the process, allowing more time for public education, is a wise investment.
In 2004 the Select Board authorized a Pyramid Override where two stand alone questions appeared on the same ballot, one for a $2 million amount and the other for $1.5 million. The larger amount failed but the smaller amount passed.
But a Debt Exclusion Override can only authorized a project and not the actual dollar amount.
Which is kind of like sending your spouse out to "buy a new car" without giving them a firm dollar amount cap.