$6.7M debt exclusion vote slated.


Byline: Susan Spencer

GRAFTON - Voters will decide at the polls tomorrow whether to move forward with a property-tax debt exclusion for a proposed $11.7 million expansion and renovation of the public library, which overlooks Grafton Common.

The cost of the project to the town would be $6.7 million, taking into account a $5.1 million grant awarded by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, a roughly $100,000 to $180,000 Green Initiative Grant and privately raised money.

The debt exclusion would increase taxes for 20 years by $0.24 per $1,000 assessed value, or an average of $81 for a home assessed at $337,000. If a 10-year borrowing term were approved by the Board of Selectmen, average taxes would increase by roughly $125.

Voters approved the project at the Oct. 17 town meeting 523-259, a two-vote margin over the required two-thirds majority.

Tomorrow's vote requires a simple majority to pass.

Proponents of the project say it's necessary to bring the library into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to meet the needs of the town's growing population.

The library, which was built in 1927 to serve a population of 6,000, now serves 18,000 residents.

The proposed renovation would increase the size to 29,000 square feet from 7,000 square feet, adding an elevator, handicapped-accessible bathrooms and entrances, meeting space for up to 150 people plus smaller meeting areas, and dedicated children's and teens' areas.

Robert W. Lewis, chairman of the Committee to Support Expansion of the Grafton Public Library, said the scope of the proposed project is dictated not only by ADA requirements but also by what the state library commissioners determined was needed for basic services as a condition of the grant award.

He said if the town doesn't vote to go ahead with the project, it would lose the $5.1 million grant - and the town would still have to bring the building...

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