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Swampscott residents mixed on higher taxes for new police station

SWAMPSCOTT – Many town residents say they will support an override to build a new police station, even though it means higher taxes for them.Ruth Rooks, who was having coffee in Lincoln’s Landing recently, said she voted for the debt exclusion override for a new police station last time it appeared on the ballot and she will support it again.?We need a new police station,” she said. “We just need to bite the bullet and do this. I just hope it’s done intelligently.”Claire Childs, who was socializing in the Swampscott Senior Center, also said she supports building a new police station.?From the picture I’ve seen they really do need a new police station,” Childs said. “The police cannot operate in those antiquated conditions. Am I happy about taxes? No, but we need a new police station.”Irene McKiernan, who was waiting for a class to start at the Swampscott Senior Center, agreed.?I went on a tour of the police station with my grandson,” she said. “I think the station is in deplorable condition. I know no one wants higher taxes, but the police station is terrible and we need a new one.”Selectmen last week approved placing a debt exclusion question on the April 26 ballot asking voters to approve borrowing $3.35 million for a new $6 million police station. The remaining $2.65 million needed for the project will be taken out of the existing budget so it not have an impact on property taxes.Finance Committee Chairman Michael McClung said if a $3.35 million debt exclusion passed it would increase taxes by approximately $65 annually for a home with a $500,000 assessed value for 20 years.Charlie Antioniello, who was at the senior center recently, doesn’t think the town needs to build a new police station.?It’s good enough where it is,” he said. “The taxes are high enough especially for a retired person. I don’t want my taxes going up again.”Diane Hunt, who has lived in town for 35 years, said she isn’t opposed to a new police station, but she is opposed to an increase in taxes.?I think they need to find another way to fund it,” she said. “They can’t keep increasing taxes.”Mia Manganiello disagreed and said the town needs to control spending and stop raising taxes.?What’s wrong with the one they’ve got,” she asked. “I think it’s excessive and I don’t think any excessive spending is necessary.”Area business owners expressed concern about tax increases.Red Rock Bistro owner Paul Peterseil said there is no doubt the town needs a new police station.?But we need to find another way to pay for it,” Peterseil said. “As a business owner I pay a huge amount of taxes and they can’t keep taking money out of taxpayers’ pockets.”Vida Vasic, who is co-owner of Allo Allo Cafe on Humphrey Street, said taxes are already making it tough for small business owners to survive.?Taxes are already so expensive,” she said. “As a new business owner we are facing tough economic times and really don’t want higher taxes.”Resident Warren Hopkins, who works at the senior center, said he supports the approach the selectmen have chosen to pay for a new police station.?I felt bad when it didn’t pass last time,” Hopkins said. “It’s terrible over there. We have a 21st Century police department operating out of a 20th Century building. I think the combination of an override and money already in the budget is reasonable.”Police Chief Ronald Madigan said the station was built in 1938 and most of the station is not handicapped accessible. There are also problems with the layout of the station. Madigan said when prisoners are brought into the station, they have to be taken through areas open to the public and escorted down two flights of narrow stairs to the cells. He said another issue with the 5,500-foot aging facility is the lack of facilities for female officers, noting that the women’s bathroom is a closet converted into a restroom. The lower level of station, where the cells are located, floods and there have been numerous problem with mold throughout the station.

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