By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The Board of Selectmen reviewed and accepted the final warrant for Town Meeting Saturday, March 18, as presented by Town Manager Jim Malloy at the Feb. 28 meeting. There were a couple of additional articles that had been added that the board discussed prior to their unanimous vote to close the warrant.
Malloy informed the board that copies of the revised warrant have been sent to the Finance Committee, town moderator, town departments and the town clerk. He drew attention to two new articles.
Article 41 would authorize the board to extend the current lease with Post 85 Emergency Service Squad, Inc., and their use of a portion of the Forbes Municipal Building’s parking lot.
Article 42 requests the town to appropriate, borrow or transfer $500,000 to undertake a feasibility study relevant to Annie E. Fales Elementary School to determine whether renovation, reconstruction or new construction is appropriate to address the school’s needs. The study is the next step in the funding process of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).
Selectman George Barrette expressed some concerns over the method of funding for Article 42, specifically, whether to borrow or to use free cash in funding the feasibility study.
“The reason I’m asking is because this is imperative to continue the process and I just want to give it its best shot,” Barrette said.
An article that seeks to borrow requires a two-thirds vote at Town Meeting; an article seeking to use free cash only requires a simple majority.
Malloy responded that the Article was written in the format that the MCBA requires. He also stated that if this article were to fail as written then it would be an indicator as to the project as a whole failing.
“There is the theoretical argument that building a school that is designed to last 50 years that people down the road should be paying a portion of it and not just the people right now,” Malloy said. “Personally, I’d leave it as a borrowing article and reserve the free cash.”
Barrette countered, “I understand the importance of this and the whole MSBA process.”
He shared his concerns over the board’s plans and goals of keeping the debt limit at certain levels, then those goals shifting and being driven by the MSBA when new school construction is considered.
Malloy reassured the board by explaining that the feasibility study is the first of a multi-step process before final approval for construction which could be four or five years away.