Lee voters to decide on road upkeep


LEE — By Monday evening, town officials should know if taxpayers are serious about accelerating the timetable to repair and pave deteriorating local roads.

Voters during Monday's annual town election will settle a non-binding question that asks if they favor borrowing $5 million over a 15-year period to get the municipality caught up on much-needed infrastructure work.

Polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the gymnasium at Crossway Village on High Street.

As for the six candidates on the ballot, all are running unopposed; five seeking re-election including Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Patricia Carlino and School Committee members Lauren Kinnaman and Robert Lohbauer.

With rising road construction costs and flat or dwindling local and state revenue set aside for such projects in Lee — as well as across Massachusetts — municipal leaders want guidance on whether to step up the road work.

"The question is more to show we have a lot of problems and don't have a lot of money right now," said David Forrest of Lee's Board of Public Works.

"Unless we get more funding, we'll get behind forever," added board member Peter Scolforo, a retired superintendent of the Lee Department of Public Works.

If voters say "Yes," the Selectmen would still have to formally request either a special or Annual Town Meeting to formally borrow the $5 million which requires a two-thirds majority approval. It's unclear if the borrowing would also require a town-wide vote 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 of 15 roads totaling almost 10 miles, taking two to three construction seasons to complete. The list that includes Forrest, High and Maple streets, Devon, West and Golden Hill roads is subject to change, depending bid prices, town officials have said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413 496-6233.


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