Mayor to seek $197.5m for Newton school
The price tag on the most expensive high school project in state history could be going up.
Newton Mayor David B. Cohen announced Friday that he will ask the city's Board of Aldermen for $197.5 million in bond authorization for the construction of Newton North High School.
That figure, which is a 40 percent increase in the project's estimated price since voters approved the site plan in January 2007, has upset some town officials.
"I'm not happy about it, but it doesn't surprise me," said Susan Albright, a member of the Board of Aldermen. "We are where we are, and we can't change anything in the past. We need to figure out what to do now."
Even before the latest figures were released, the escalating cost had stunned some taxpayers and spurred debate.
Cohen, in a statement released Friday, called the new cost "the line in the sand."
"At this price, we can be sure that this outstanding community facility will be of the highest quality," Cohen said in the statement. "With this announcement, we bring closure to the period of uncertainty regarding the cost of Newton North, enabling us to collectively look forward to building on the significant on-site progress happening each day."
To help cover the extra costs, the Board of Aldermen may vote tonight to send one of several alternative proposals for a property-tax override for next fiscal year to voters.
Jeremy Solomon, the city's spokesman, said during a telephone interview last night that he did not have exact figures available on how the proposed increase would affect property taxes. But, he said, whether an override is passed or not, the mayor is prepared to spend a larger portion of the budget on capital needs, including schools and firehouses.
The mayor's last estimate in mid-January put the school's cost at $186.6 million.