Marblehead voters OK $24.3M in capital projects

In the Tuesday election, Marblehead approved a Proposition 2 1/2 debt-exclusion override to finance a $24.3 million smorgasbord of capital improvement projects over the next five years.

According to preliminary machine and hand counted results, the first of two Proposition 2 1/2 override questions on the day’s ballot was approved by a vote of 3,352 “yes” votes – or 57 percent – to 2,177 “no” votes. A total of 5,845 ballots were cast in a turnout that depleted the town’s stockpile of ballots.

“It’s great,” Select Board Chair Jackie Belf-Becker told Marblehead News as she watched results inside Abbot Hall. “We appreciate the support of the town.”

The spending voters approved can be broken down in four parts:

  • $12.5 million on sidewalks and road improvements
  • Almost $9 million on town-wide roof repairs
  • $1.4 million to replace the town’s salt shed at Tower Way and Marblehead High School boilers
  • $1.7 million to finance technology upgrades

“In talking to voters, the one hings everyone agrees on is the need to improve our infrastructure,” said Selectperson Erin Noonan after polls closed on Tuesday. “I want to thank Marblehead voters for supporting Question 1 and look forward to making the investment in infrastructure that our town residents deserve.”

The town will not issue the debt all at once, as Marblehead has historically done with debt-exclusions, but over multiple years, a fact that former Marblehead finance director and town administrator John McGinn explained on the Town Meeting floor in May.

“What’s being proposed here is something we’ve kind of never done before,” McGinn said. 

Marblehead Finance Committee Chairman Alec Goolby added that the financing approach permits the town to address significant infrastructure, building and capital needs over the next five years, while spreading the debt out over that span. 

To maximize resources, officials plan to combine some of the $24.3 million in debt it issues with money available from other sources, including Chapter 90 funds from the state, sales of lots in the town cemetery, revolving funds, fees and state grants, along with regular taxation.

Question 1 came before the local electorate just as debt that had previously been issued for large projects, including the construction of Marblehead High School, was set to roll off property tax bills.

“This will allow us to manage new debt in a way that, as debt comes off, we can replace it with some of these initiatives,” McGinn told Town Meeting.

Marblehead News staff
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