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What's in a word? Bad news for Bourne

Last week, Guerino had to pull another article from the warrant because of a miscommunication between planning officials and his staff. Planning officials have been working on a wind energy bylaw since June that aims to regulate the installation of commercial and residential wind turbines. Although the new bylaw was received and placed on the warrant, the bylaw amendments accompanying it were lost in paperwork at town hall. Because both the new bylaw and the amendments need to be approved collectively, the whole issue was tabled until May's town meeting.

BOURNE - Five grand.

That's what it will cost to hold a second special town meeting next month because town officials failed to include one word - ''appropriate'' - in a town warrant article.

The error, discovered late last week, is more bad news for school officials, who want voters to pass a $13.2 million debt exclusion. The money is needed to build the Bourne Early Childhood and Elementary School.

But because warrant articles cannot be amended two weeks prior to town meeting, the school funding article had to be pulled from Tuesday's warrant. A new special town meeting has been scheduled for Oct. 16.

Voters originally approved $26.8 million for the new school in 2003. But three years of delays and a dramatic increase in construction material costs have led to a final price tag of $40.1 million - a discovery made when construction bids were opened.

Voters were supposed to consider the additional funding at Tuesday's town meeting, then cast ballots in an election the next day. Residents will still vote on the debt exclusion Oct. 4. The debt exclusion must be approved at both the special town meeting on Oct. 16 and at the polls to succeed.

The missing word was discovered by Town Moderator Robert... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BOURNE - Five grand.

That's what it will cost to hold a second special town meeting next month because town officials failed to include one word - ''appropriate'' - in a town warrant article.

The error, discovered late last week, is more bad news for school officials, who want voters to pass a $13.2 million debt exclusion. The money is needed to build the Bourne Early Childhood and Elementary School.

But because warrant articles cannot be amended two weeks prior to town meeting, the school funding article had to be pulled from Tuesday's warrant. A new special town meeting has been scheduled for Oct. 16.

Voters originally approved $26.8 million for the new school in 2003. But three years of delays and a dramatic increase in construction material costs have led to a final price tag of $40.1 million - a discovery made when construction bids were opened.

Voters were supposed to consider the additional funding at Tuesday's town meeting, then cast ballots in an election the next day. Residents will still vote on the debt exclusion Oct. 4. The debt exclusion must be approved at both the special town meeting on Oct. 16 and at the polls to succeed.

The missing word was discovered by Town Moderator Robert Parady.

Bourne Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino said, without the word ''appropriate,'' there was no mechanism to raise the money in question.

''Instead of having the potential of it being challenged, the thought amongst the lawyers is that it is better to reword it more appropriately and hold another meeting,'' Guerino said.

Although the school building project will still be discussed at next week's town meeting, no formal vote will be taken.

All town meeting articles come to Guerino's office and are reviewed by the town's attorney, the town administrator said.

Neither town officials nor selectmen were willing to point fingers publicly yesterday at who is to blame for the oversight.

Last week, Guerino had to pull another article from the warrant because of a miscommunication between planning officials and his staff.

Planning officials have been working on a wind energy bylaw since June that aims to regulate the installation of commercial and residential wind turbines.

Although the new bylaw was received and placed on the warrant, the bylaw amendments accompanying it were lost in paperwork at town hall. Because both the new bylaw and the amendments need to be approved collectively, the whole issue was tabled until May's town meeting.

While the wind turbine bylaw is important, the approval of the $13.2 million debt exclusion is vital to provide students a quality education, said school Supt. Edmond LaFleur.

If approved, the debt exclusion will raise annual property taxes by about $139 a year for the next 20 years, for the owner of a $350,000 home, the median assessed value of homes in Bourne.

Currently, Bourne is No. 1 on the state's school building list. The state is ready to reimburse the town 62 percent of the cost of the new school - or $16 million - and provide $7.1 million in road-safety improvements to the Scenic Highway.

The new school would replace the Ella F. Hoxie and Otis Memorial elementary schools.

If voters reject the debt exclusion, the town loses the road improvements, its No. 1 spot on the reimbursement list, the $2 million already invested in design plans, and will never again see the 62 percent reimbursement rate, LaFleur said.

Selectmen Chairwoman Linda Zuern, who refused to place blame for the missing word, does not think the mistake or the additional night of town meeting will negatively affect voter turnout.

A quorum, 200 registered voters, should be attainable due to the importance of the issue, Zuern said.

However, fellow Selectman Judith Conron said the error is exasperating and detrimental to school supporters because the debt exclusion will not be settled prior to next week's town election.

''I think it hurts its chances of passing because it would've been helpful to get a vote of confidence from town meeting,'' Conron said. ''We're all angry and disappointed at the overruns, and then to say, 'Oh by the way, we're not going to be able to vote on it at the town meeting we constructed just for this' is very, very, very disappointing.''

Selectmen have no plans to discuss or examine the mistakes that were made.

Zuern said it was an unfortunate accident and the town will have to get beyond it.

''Sometimes mistakes happen and that's just the way it is,'' she said.

Aaron Gouveia can be reached at agouveia@capecodonline.com.


Source: http://www.capecodonline.co...

SEP 27 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/4862-what-s-in-a-word-bad-news-for-bourne
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