Lee voters support $5 million loan for road repair initiative

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LEE — Voters on Monday showed their support for a plan to borrow $5 million to cover the costs of local road repairs and paving.

By a count of 152-65, residents supported a nonbinding question asking if they favored the 15-year loan to upgrade 15 municipal byways totaling 10 miles. The 217 votes were among the 240 ballots cast — a turnout of less than 10 percent for the annual town election.

If town officials actually seek formal approval of loan, the infrastructure work would be done in two to three construction seasons, according to town officials

Of the six candidates running unopposed, five were seeking re-election, including Select Board Chairwoman Patricia Carlino and School Committee members Lauren Kinnaman and Robert Lohbauer. Margaret "Peggy" Biron took the available Planning Board seat as Shaun Hall didn't seek another term.

Rising road construction costs and stagnant local and state revenue set aside for such projects in Lee — as well as across Massachusetts — prompted town officials to seek residents' views on getting caught up on fixing deteriorating roads and streets.

A special or annual town meeting vote, requiring a two-thirds majority approval, would be necessary to borrow the $5 million. For now, Town Administrator Robert Nason doesn't anticipate also having a ballot question to exempt the loan from Proposition 2 1/2.

Based on the current tax rate, the average single-family homeowner in Lee would pay an estimated total of $1,890 in property taxes over the 15-year life of the loan, according to town officials.

Potentially, the $5 million could cover the cost of repair and paving all or part 15 roads, which include Forrest, High and Maple streets, and Devon, West and Golden Hill roads. The list is subject to change, depending on bid prices, town officials have said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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