The current estimated cost of the project is $155.5 million. However, over the coming months and through the Schematic Design process, adjustments will be made. The final projection will be refined before going to Town Meeting.
While the specific project cost is still unknown, we can estimate the impact to the average tax bill using various cost levels and other assumptions. If voters approve a debt exclusion, new debt could be taken on by the town and loans would be paid over many years by an increase in property taxes over the life of the loan. At the same time, existing exempt debt (financing High Plain, Wood Hill and Bancroft school construction, for example) is being paid off, with a notable drop to come in the year 2022. Estimates show that the FY18 average tax bill was about $9,600 , of which $270 was applied to existing exempt debt.
Total exempt debt—existing plus that from any new projects approved by voters—will have a bearing on the town’s repayment schedule and, therefore, on residential taxes in any given year.
The Town has put together preliminary debt scenarios based on various assumptions about construction project costs, interest rates and loan terms. These estimates show that for every $10,000,000 of debt incurred, we can expect an average tax bill impact of between $39.00 and $47.80 in the first year of loan repayment. The annual cost to taxpayers would gradually decrease after the first year as interest payments on the debt decrease and as existing debt for other town projects expires.