The Natick special Town Meeting that starts Tuesday will take up the funding of two major projects: the new Natick High School and the new community senior center.
The School Committee will request a vote on a a tax increase to pay for the proposed high school. The cost of the new school has not been finalized but estimates put it at $89 million. It is expected that Natick taxpayers will have to pay for about $42.3 million with the rest coming from the state.
The town has decided to build the school under the Massachusetts School Building Authority's model school program, using a standard design which will be varied somewhat to meet Natick's needs. State reimbursement under the program is higher than for projects that start from scratch.
The total cost of the school will not be announced until after the MSBA assesses the project and provides a budget. The committee is expected to receive the budget shortly before the Town Meeting.
Natick selectman John Ciccariello said the meetings with the MSBA have gone well so far.
“There were no negative issues, and everything that the town is supposed to have submitted has been submitted appropriately,” he said.
Ciccariello said that regardless of what happens at Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen will take a vote on the new high school at their Feb. 8 meeting to determine whether the item will make it to the March 30 townwide ballot.
Town meeting members will also take up a tax increase needed to fund the proposed new $10 million community senior center.
Ciccariello said Town Meeting has previously supported the various design phases of the project and has heard support for the measure within the community. However, he said decision ultimately rests with the voters. The measure would also be on the March 30 ballot.
“It’s certainly a project that I think the community needs,” he said. “But I am certainly am in favor of allowing the voters to decide and not having myself to decide whether or not we can afford it.”
The tax burden for both projects will decline over the 20-year period of the bonds that would be used to pay for them and will be gone at the end of the period. Town officials estimate that a person owning a $393,200 home- the average in town - would pay as much as $253 a year in extra property taxes for the school and $53 for the community senior center.