Topsfield residents at the annual town election yesterday delivered a split verdict on two proposed Proposition 2 1/2 tax increases.
By a vote of 736 to 569, voters rejected a proposed $78,277 override to help fund the proposed increase in the town's assessment to the Masconomet Regional School district in fiscal 2008.
But by a vote of 770 to 519, residents approved a debt exclusion that will allow the town to raise $400,000 outside its property tax limit to repay the debt on two bridge projects: the replacement of the Asbury Street bridge, and the repair of the Rowley Bridge Road Bridge.
The annual town meeting last Monday had appropriated $5.4 million to cover the town's Masconomet assessment, of which $78,277 was contingent on passage of the override. It separately authorized funding for the bridge projects, contingent on passage of the debt exclusion.
With the defeat of the override, Topsfield has effectively funded its district assessment at a level below what Masconomet requested.
But if the other two district towns approve their assessments at the amounts requested by Masconomet – Boxford and Middleton hold their town meetings next week, and Boxford has a Masconomet override vote May 15 – the Masconomet budget would be considered approved, and Topsfield would have to fund its assessment at the full amount, including the $78,277.
-- John Laidler
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