Bourne DPW Project Fails At Polls
By: Diana T. Barth
The debt exclusion for the new Department of Public Works Garage failed at the polls by 565 votes on Tuesday.
Some 10,134 Bourne voters cast ballots in this Tuesday’s election, but only 8,877 voted either way in response to the DPW question. That number is in comparison to the 9,880 who voted on the death with dignity question or the 9,792 people who weighed in on the question of legalizing medicinal marijuana.
An analysis of those results has left some officials raising the possibility that many voters, who came out for the presidential election, did not have enough information to weigh in on the DPW question.
The failure of the question also leaves officials with a decision to make in advance of next week’s Town Meeting, when taxation for the proposed new facility is requested in Article 16 on the warrant.
Voters have to approve the proposed raise in property taxes for the DPW complex at both a Town Meeting and in an election, but it does not matter which of those votes comes first.
Until Hurricane Sandy interfered, the town had expected to raise the level of awareness of the project at Town Meeting prior to the presidential election, when people who do not ordinarily follow political questions come out to vote.
Selectman Chairman John A. Ford Jr. said, he had long worried that this fall was too soon to bring the project before voters. He said the DPW has to move, given the landfill’s need for the space on which it sits, but he had felt there was not enough time to educate people about the project. The majority of his board disagreed, however, feeling that the need for the new facility was clear, and the fact that only $6.3 million of the cost of the garage would need to be borrowed and repaid, would make approval an obvious choice.
Various town officials were saying this week that they still expect to bring the matter before voters at Town Meeting, which begins Wednesday at 7 PM in the Bourne High School auditorium.
Mr. Ford said yesterday that he does not know what his board will do, given that they have to give deference to the fact that the people have spoken. He said he tends to want the Town Meeting vote to go forward. The Special Town Meeting vote will let officials know how those who have educated themselves as to the project will vote. An overwhelming vote either way would give guidance to his board as to what to do in the future.
Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino said that if selectmen do decide to move forward with the project, they might also discuss postponing the Town Meeting vote until spring, when that vote and town elections would be closer in time to one another. He said the town clerk and town counsel will also be consulted as to the timing requirements of the two votes relative to one another, along with any posting requirements. Mr. Guerino said the DPW building committee, finance committee, and capital outlay committee would all be weighing in on the issue between now and next Wednesday.
Mr. Ford said the official decision as to the whether the article will come before voters on Wednesday will likely be made when the board of selectmen meets just prior to Town Meeting.
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