Williamstown approves Greylock High School renovation

March 9, 2016 by Michael Green, Executive Editor

On March 1, voters in approved the increase in taxes required to pay for the Mount Greylock Regional High School renovation project.

The result of the vote, which was held in conjunction with the presidential primaries, was 2226 to 351, meaning 84 percent of voters approved the funding for the project. Out of 4772 registered voters in Williamstown, 2583 participated, a voter turnout of 54 percent.

“I am immensely grateful to Williamstown voters for supporting this project and doing so overwhelmingly,” said Carrie Greene, chair of the Mount Greylock School Committee.

The project’s projected cost is $64.8 million, with $33.2 million coming from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), and Williamstown and Lanesborough splitting the rest of the cost (see “College pledges $5 million for Mount Greylock School District,” Feb. 27, 2016). In the vote, Williamstown approved an increase in property taxes in order to pay their approxi-mately $22.3 million share of the cost. The Williamstown vote was necessary because Massachusetts law Proposition 2 1/2 requires the approval of voters when property taxes exceed certain limits. 

Lanesborough will vote on March 15 to determine if taxpayers in the town will assume their approximate $10.6 million share of the project under Proposition 2 1/2. If the vote does not pass, the project will be terminated. At that point, Lanesborough would have to hold a revote, in which residents would have to vote in favor of the project in order for plans to continue. If the project does not advance, future renovations to the high school will not have MSBA funding.

“I am hopeful the project will be approved in Lanesborough. We won’t see as wide a margin, but I think we will clear 51 percent and then some,” Greene said.

Lanesborough town officials conducted a survey, sent to registered voters, to assess support for the project. Of 894 respondents, 377 or 42 percent, said they supported the project, 435, or 49 percent, opposed the project and the remaining voters indicated they had no opinion. Based on a population size of 2163 registered voters as of Feb. 10, according to Massachusetts records, and a 95- percent confidence level, the confidence interval for the poll was 2.51 percent.

“There is a great deal of evidence and research demonstrating the benefits of this project to both Lanesborough and the future of education in Berkshire County,” Greene said. “Those out advo-cating for the vote believe this is a solid investment in the future of their town and our shared community educationally, economically and regionally.”

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