Wellington vote could come in April

A vote on a debt exclusion for the construction of Wellington Elementary School could make it onto the April ballot after all. Despite earlier signals from the State that it would not be ready with an answer for the town on funding for the construction of a new Wellington Elementary school in time for the town’s April election, it now appears possible that the Selectmen could meet with officials from the Massachusetts School Building Authority today to hammer out the details of a funding agreement, allowing the Selectmen to vote to put the measure before the town on the April 6th ballot, according to town officials and Together For Wellington, a group formed in support of the debt exclusion.

As of Monday morning, however, it was still uncertain whether the meeting will take place, with today’s heavy snowfall only complicating matters. Gov. Patrick asked all State workers to report to work at noon to ease road congestion during the morning commute.

The change of tone from MSBA came late last week, apparently after state officials realized that they may be able to get a faster resolution on the final issues standing in the way of final approval for the Wellington, which has been under consideration for months. The group had raised questions recently about the per square foot cost of the project compared to a similar school construction project in Hingham.

If the town and state officials are able to reach agreement on the project by the end of business today, the Board of Selectmen would need to vote before midnight to put the debt exclusion before voters. All three have signaled that they would vote in favor of doing that and have made themselves available to meet with MSBA officials on short notice Monday, if necessary.

An April 6 vote leaves just over a month for Together for Wellington and others in town to organize voters in support of the debt exclusion. A fund raiser hosted at The Belmont Hill School (which donated space to the group) over the weekend was attended by over 100 residents. Should the MSBA and town fail to reach an accord by the end of the day, a vote on the Wellington would be pushed to a special election — possibly in June and possibly alongside a Prop 2 1/2 override vote that town officials believe will be necessary to help patch a large operating deficit that the town is running.