SHIRLEY - The selectmen at their meeting Monday night quickly dispatched as routine business a change in the wording of the Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion referendum set for Dec. 11, correcting an earlier version they voted to accept last week.

Now, the question voters will be asked aligns with that of the Ayer Shirley Regional School District's other member town, which will vote on it the same day.

In brief, it states up front that this is a one-ballot, "debt exclusion question" and asks if voters will accept a temporary tax increase (under provisions of Proposition 2 1/2) to cover the amount the town must kick in for the disitrict's high school athletic fields project.

The warrant was posted on Tuesday and may be viewed on the town website.

Per the Regional Agreement, which splits the percentage 60/40, Shirley's smaller share of the district's bond bill would be about $2.8 million, with a total project cost of up to $7.1 million.

The district already has borrowing authority in hand for the fields project, approved in a district-wide vote earlier this month. Strongly supported in Ayer, the measure was defeated in Shirley, where 394 voters said no.

The project was later approved at both town meetings.

But when his board made its recommendation on the related article in Shirley, Selectman Enrico Cappucci cast the single vote against it, citing those dissenting votes in the district-wide election.

At a subsequent board meeting, Cappucci explained why.


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Rather than support the project as presented, he favored having the Regional School Committee take a second look at an alternative plan proposed by School Committee member Jim Quinty, one of Shirley's three representatives on the six-member board.

The School Committee previously rejected Quinty's idea -- which he said would cost less and centers on moving baseball and soccer fields off campus -- for a list of reasons, including lack of backup data.

But Cappucci has posited that it could be reconsidered if the debt exclusion fails.

Cappucci said last week that if voters reject the debt exclusion, the town won't be on the hook because an earlier RSC vote tied the district's borrowing plans to passage of debt exclusions in both towns, and he's counting on the other board to keep its promise not to move forward otherwise.