Three South Shore municipalities have local ballot questions: Halifax will vote on a property-tax override, and Hull and Rockland will choose whether they want to opt into the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act.

By Sean Philip Cotter

HALIFAX – Way down on the ballot, under things you may have heard about such as the Trump-Clinton matchup, the possible legalization of pot and the charter-schools question, there’s a section that doesn’t get much publicity.

Three South Shore municipalities have local ballot questions: Halifax will vote on a property-tax override, and Hull and Rockland will choose whether they want to opt into the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act.

Halifax’s citizens will decide whether they want to allow their municipality to raise property taxes this coming year by more than the 2.5 percent that’s normally allowed under state law.

Town administrator Charlie Selig said that this is to fund the renovation and expansion of the current Council on Aging Center, also known as Pope’s Tavern. The building, which was built in 1840, needs about $950,000 work of work to bring it up to code and to add a large meeting room and other facilities, he said.

“The building really hasn’t received a large number of renovations or upgrades for several decades,” he said.

The town will get about $250,000 from the state, so the town will need to bridge the $700,000 gap with a combination of “free cash” – whatever end-of-year surplus the town has ended up with – and revenue from higher taxes, Selig said.

He said the town’s going ahead with the project even if the override doesn’t pass; if the town council can only raise taxes by the normal 2.5 percent maximum, Halifax may have to pull money from other places on its yearly budget or draw out the payment plan for the bond it will take out to pay for the changes.

“If the ballot question is defeated, that doesn’t defeat the project,” Selig said.

The town levied 19.25 mills in property taxes in 2016, according to its website.

Rockland and Hull are voting on whether to embrace the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act, a 16-year-old state law that gives them access to matching state funds for open space preservation, historic preservation, affordable housing and outdoor recreation projects.

This would involve a tax bump between one and three percent of the annual real estate tax the town levies, an increase that would take effect in 2018 if the measure were to pass this November. The state used to completely match the funds raised by the local tax hike, but in recent years that’s dropped to only around a 30 percent match, and that could go lower if Boston opts in this year.

These local initiatives need a simple majority to pass.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Sean Cotter may be reached at scotter@ledger.com.

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