GRAFTON, Mass. – The facility upgrades to the Municipal Center and school buildings, known as article 13 on the Grafton Town Meeting warrant, were passed Monday night by a two-thirds majority vote at town meeting.
It took about an hour for the article to be discussed and settled. This was a significant victory to the Board of Selectmen, which proposed a similar plan in the spring which narrowly failed at a special Town Meeting. Monday night's vote was not supported by the finance committee, which believed that the funding sources, primarily from presumed surplus dollars from the high school project, were untested and might create a greater debt to the town.
Selectman David Ross summed up his argument for the passage by saying, “This problem is not going away. If this doesn’t pass, we will have to come back to you next May and that will probably mean a tax increase.”
The issue, to spend $6.5 million to upgrade windows, roofs and heating systems is to be paid largely by town savings, rebates and savings from the high school project surplus. The balance of about $3.8 million would be borrowed.
“There is a strong likelihood the $1.3 million high school surplus might not be there,” said state Rep. George Peterson, who echoed the sentiments of the finance committee.
Ross agreed that the surplus is not guaranteed but that they can make up any differences along the way.
Dominique Ross, a Grafton resident, put a different spin on the evening discussion.
“What would you do if you had a leaky roof and were facing another bad New England winter?" she asked. "We can wait or we can punish ourselves. We should bite the bullet.”
The article passed with sound backing from the attendees, many whom agreed that the buildings were in dire need of repair and that the energy savings, guaranteed by Honeywell at 31.75 percent, would be a good investment.