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Select Board Considers Debt Exclusion Votes In Fall Elections

Town Clerk Amy Warfield and the Burlington Select Board Monday night discussed plans to hold a town-wide debt exclusion vote to fund the rebuilding of the Fox Hill Elementary School and potentially the Burlington Police Station, though no final dates have been set. 

The debt exclusion votes would allow Burlington to raise residents’ tax bills beyond the typical limit of 2.5 percent per year in order to fund a larger project, and requires a two-thirds vote at Town Meeting and a majority vote of registered voters. And, because the debt exclusion items can’t appear on the same ballot as the state or federal races, it also requires Warfield to hold two separate elections at the same time, effectively doubling her logistical concerns and her staffing needs. 

“A town election costs between $25,000 and $30,000 so it’s going to increase my special accounts budget for the fall for 2025’s budget as well,” Warfield said. 

The Select Board will now consider the merits of holding the debt exclusion vote in September’s state primary, where voters will cast their ballot for state representative and state senator candidates in their respective parties, or in November’s Presidential Election, which typically draws much larger crowds. 

The Fox Hill School Building Committee recently submitted its Preferred Schematic Report to the Massachusetts School Building Authority; once the state agenda approves the report, Burlington will have 180 days to secure the funding for its share of the project. 

The Police Station Building Commitee is a much newer body, but without the structure of cooperating with a state board, it can move much faster, and is planning on requesting funds from Town Meeting as soon as May. It has not been confirmed that a debt exclusion vote will be necessary or desired, but the Select Board is considering the possibility. 

It takes about 60 days to prepare an election, so the Select Board has until about July to finalize the decision on when it plans to hold the debt exclusion vote.