BELLINGHAM — Getting the needed two-thirds majority vote, Special Town Meeting voters last week approved a Proposition 2-1/2 override that will raise taxes in order to pay for a $15.4 million water treatment project.
Article 16 of the 23-article warrant asked voters to finance the project to construct water mains and a water treatment plant, as well as modify existing treatment and pumping systems to treat the town's drinking water through disinfection and reduce iron and manganese in tap water. The project will also ensure the town's wells meet state groundwater guidelines.
With the debt exclusion now aproved, taxes will increase for the next 20-plus years, starting in 2014. The tax increase will be $26.75 in fiscal 2014 and 2015; $102.75 in fiscal 2016; and $102.75 every year after that until 2036.
The Department of Public Works outlined the water treatment project in a 138-page report submitted to selectmen last month. Wright-Pierce, an engineering firm hired by the town to study available water sources and research possible treatment methods, recomended that the town update its current treatment options by modifying the existing water treatment plant on Hartford Road and building a second on Wrentham Road.
The Department for Public Works was scheduled to have a pilot study for the project completed and sent in to the state by this weekend.
Special Town Meeting voters also approved Article 8, which asked voters to adopt a general bylaw that would require residents to present a photo ID, including a driver’s license, state ID card or passport, before voting at Town Meeting and at local elections. The article as written stipulates that residents present a photo ID, including a driver’s license, state ID card or passport, but the Board of Selectmen ammended the article on the Town Meeting floor to strike the photo requirement and add to the language other accepted forms of identification such as bills, library cards, credit cards, debit cards, rental contracts, or tax statements. The proposal must still be approved by the state Attorney General's Office.
Voters also approved petition-submitted Article 7, to raise and appropriate a sum of money for the purpose of financing the reconstruction — complete with artificial turf — of the high school athletic field, along with repairs and reconstruction to the track in conjunction with the field project.
The project will cost roughly $1,355,000. When financed over 10 years, the town's annual cost would come to $162,000, which can be paid back using the revenue the town will receive from the recently passed town meals tax.
There were also several articles submitted by the Department of Public Works that were approved, including Article 14, which asked voters to approve financing the first phase of the Lake Hiawatha sewer project.
The funding will pay for the design and construction of gravity sewers, force main sewers, and a pumping station to connect the existing sewer in Hampton Court with a proposed sewer pumping station near Lakeshore Drive. The project would also include sewer construction along South Main Street in the area between Chestnut Street and Scott Hill Boulevard as well as off-road sewer construction.