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Carthage’s new capital project in the hands of the voters

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CARTHAGE — The public will decide next week the fate of the school district’s latest project to address security, safety and maintenance concerns.

Fewer than 20 residents showed up at Carthage High School to learn about the details of the district’s latest $13.2 million or $16.9 million capital project — depending on the proposition chosen — during a public forum Wednesday.

“There is nothing put into this project that’s extravagant,” Superintendent Peter J. Turner said, referring to the first proposition.

Residents of the district can vote on the project from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Carthage High School library.

According to a pamphlet provided to the district, both propositions pass only if a resident votes “yes” on both. The pamphlet states that neither will pass if Proposition 1 is voted down, even if Proposition 2 is approved.

During the forum, Mr. Turner said he fears that some voters will get confused and vote for the second proposition only.

“That’ll hurt us,” he said. “That’s a ‘no’ vote.”

Proposition 1 — the main proposition — will include security camera replacement, asbestos removal, water treatment, boiler replacement and parking lot repair work, among other needs the district finds necessary. Alone, it will cost $1.01 per $100,000 in assessed property value per year for 15 years. Business Manager Amy M. Marrocco said residents would begin paying the extra tax as early as the 2014-15 school year.

The second proposition — which would be counted only if the first proposition is approved by the voters — would add four classrooms to West Carthage Elementary as well as basic technology infrastructure upgrades. Together, the projects would cost $1.33 per $100,000 in assessed property value.

Mr. Turner said that the project is eligible for 98 percent state aid, and $700,000 from the district’s EXCEL (Expanding Our Children’s Education and Learning) grant can be put toward the project. If the maintenance items were put on the budget rather than the capital project, it would not be aidable by the state. He warned that the EXCEL grant may be taken away in two months.

Wilfred J. Deion, a resident of Black River, said he is considering voting “yes” on both propositions.

“I think we need the project,” he said. “We’re going to save on efficiency, and when we save on efficiency, we save on money.”

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