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East Bridgewater surprises some by voting for two property tax hikes

Posted February 15, 2011 06:47 PM

Many are hailing last Saturday's East Bridgewater votes for tax increases to pay for two building projects, with proponents saying the tally clearly shows young and old supported each other in the effort to replace an aging school and build the community’s first senior center.

A $77 million project to build a new school for grades 7 through 12 sailed through with 2,547 in favor and 416 opposed. The state will reimburse about 65 percent of the cost, leaving the town responsible for $34 million.

A proposal for a $3.75 million senior center — the town’s first — also passed by a 2-1 ratio, with 1,973 in favor and 977 opposed. Supporters have been working to secure funding for a senior center for the last eight years.

‘‘I’m proud to be a citizen,’’ said Beth Hayes, who had backed both tax increases. ‘‘These votes show how much we care for each other in East Bridgewater.’’

Saturday’s vote marked the first time since 1997 that property owners agreed to a tax increase beyond the state’s Proposition 2 1/2 yearly cap. The increases, called debt exclusions since they are temporary, will boost the average real estate tax bill by about $400 annually for the next 20 years.

‘‘East Bridgewater is a traditionally conservative town, and that was a hurdle in our eyes,’’ said Michael Shea, a member of A Better Community, a citizens group promoting the school project.

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