Globe Local

Marshfield voters weigh tax increase for capital projects

Marshfield residents are deciding whether to build a new police station, shown here in an illustration, as well as an addition to its senior center.
Town of Marshfield
Marshfield residents are deciding whether to build a new police station, shown here in an illustration, as well as an addition to its senior center.

Marshfield residents will decide whether to raise their taxes to borrow about $41 million to build a new police station and public works facility, add on to the town’s senior center, and repair and replace some sea walls in the coastal community.

Officials say the expense would add about $205 annually for the next 30 years to the typical homeowner’s tax bill, which is now about $6,100 for a home valued at $456,000.

The borrowing first needs two-thirds approval of a Special Town Meeting scheduled for Nov. 18. If the measure passes, it would need final approval from a townwide ballot question on Nov. 23 that would allow Marshfield to override the borrowing limits set by Proposition 2½.

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The actual cost of the capital improvements is close to $50 million, but Town Administrator Michael Maresco said the town did not need to borrow the full amount since some of the cost would be paid from other sources.

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Maresco said selectmen decided to lump the capital projects together at the advice of the town’s bond counsel, and because the board wanted to be sure the projects were treated equally “because we are one Marshfield.”

The most expensive project on the list is a $20.65 million police station of about 21,000 square feet.

The new station would replace the one built in 1958, last renovated in 1978 — and which Police Chief Phillip A. Tavares describes as a “major safety and security hazard.”

In an online tour of the current facility, Tavares notes that the basement floods, the wiring system is “a mess,” the pipes frequently freeze in the winter when the heating fails, and the building is neither handicapped accessible nor safe to hold prisoners — who are sent to Plymouth.

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The town’s Department of Public Works facility, which was built in 1967 and added to in 1972, also is in poor shape, Maresco said. He said the town recently had to make emergency repairs to the roof for safety reasons. The new DPW building would cost $17.65 million and have 35,000 square feet of space.

Plans call for constructing both the new police station and DPW facility on vacant municipal land behind the current police station. The old buildings would be demolished, Maresco said.

He said the senior center project is different because the current building “is as beautiful as when it opened 15 years ago” but needs more space to accommodate a growing demand for its services.

The two-story addition would cost an estimated $8 million, and have about 11,400 square feet of space.

The proposal also includes spending $3.5 million on sea walls, a perennial expense in the flood-prone town.

Johanna Seltz can be reached seltzjohanna@gmail.com.