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Falmouth voters approve Route 1, middle school bonds and school budget

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Falmouth voters approve Route 1, middle school bonds and school budget

FALMOUTH — Voters narrowly passed the referendum on a $11.7 million bond to remake Route 1 by just 89 votes, while easily approving the $30.2 million school budget and validation process.

Voters also approved the two Falmouth Middle School bonds totalling $5 million by a wide margin.

"We are most appreciative of the community's support for this important renovation project," Superintendent Barbara Powers said in an email Tuesday night about the middle school bonds. "This will allow the entire school campus to be in excellent condition for all of our students once the upgrades are completed in the summer of 2014."

The Route 1 bond passed 1,240 to 1,151.

The bond will pay for infrastructure improvements along the business corridor, which will include burying utility lines, landscaping medians, building new sidewalks, installing street lights and making storm water management improvements.

In addition to the bond, zoning changes approved by the Town Council in May are intended to give the area a more village-like feel and encourage multiple forms of transportation.

The bond is expected to be paid for with tax increment financing, which essentially earmarks business property taxes to pay for the project. If the taxes raised do not cover the full bond amount, residents will be left with the remaining bill.

The fiscal 2014 school budget vote passed overwhelmingly 1,758 to 581 and represents a 4 percent increase from the previous budget. Voters also approved of the budget validation process by a vote of 1,693 to 611.

Votes on the middle school bonds - one to upgrade the heating system and the other to renovate classrooms and replace and strengthen part of the school's roof - passed with ease.

The $3.25 million heating system upgrade bond passed 1,840 to 526. The $1.7 million classroom and roof renovation bond passed in similar fashion with a total vote count of 1,756 to 612.

The current steam-heating system will be replaced with a water-heating system that will allow the school to use the more efficient wood-chip boiler. It will also allow the department to connect the middle school heating system to the elementary and high school system.

In addition, more efficient windows and added insulation will be installed, along with new classroom heating units.

The bond will also allow for the reconfiguration of some classrooms to make more efficient use of space, which will result in the addition of two new classrooms.

Total voter turnout was 26 percent, or 2,408 voters, according to the town clerk's office.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.