Debt exclusion override to determine funding for new Swampscott police station

SWAMPSCOTT – Voters will go to the polls this spring to vote on a $3.35 million debt exclusion override to build a new police station.Selectmen voted 4-1 to put the debt exclusion question on the April 26 ballot.A new police station on the Humphrey Street site is expected to cost $6.4 million and $450,000 of that was already appropriated by Town Meeting for site studies and designs.Town Administrator Andrew Maylor said the town had several options: the station could be funded through debt exclusion alone, within the existing tax levy, or a “hybrid approach.”Maylor explained the hybrid approach would combine an override with free cash and other existing town funds that are part of the existing tax levy.The selectmen, with the exception of Selectman David Van Dam, were in favor of paying for the police station using a combination of money from a debt exclusion override and existing town funds.Finance Committee Chairman Michael McClung said a $3.35 million debt exclusion would cost the owner of a $500,000 home approximately $65 a year for a period of 20 years.Van Dam said he believes the town needs a new police station but he wants to fund it within the existing tax levy and not ask voters for a debt exclusion.Maylor said if the entire cost of the police station were put within the existing tax levy some sacrifices would need to be made and other capital projects including school repairs would not be able to be funded for a few years.Selectman Richard Malagrifa said he believes a combination of funds from a debt exclusion and the operating budget is the best course of action.?It’s obvious we need a new police station,” Malagrifa said. “It’s an embarrassment and dangerous.”Selectman Matthew Strauss said he supports the hybrid approach as well because he believes it is too risky to try and finance the entire cost through the existing budget.Selectman Robert Mazow, who is the liaison to the Police Station Building Committee, agreed.?We need this police station,” he said. “But I believe funding it all in the existing tax levy is gambling with taxpayer money. I support the hybrid approach.”Selectman Jill Sullivan said using an override and the existing tax levy is a reasonable solution that poses the least risk to the town.?This approach specifically eliminates the need to find other revenue sources,” she said. “This is a prudent approach.”The consensus among the selectmen was if the debt exclusion ballot question does not pass the town should prepare to move forward with building a station within the existing tax levy, which would not have a financial impact on property owners but would have an impact on other capital improvement projects.

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