SANFORD — A public hearing Tuesday on the referendum to authorize the building of a new high school and technical center drew remarks from four citizens. Three favored the proposal, while a fourth expressed skepticism over the impact it will have on property taxes.

Sanford and Springvale residents will vote on two referendum questions on Jan. 13.

The first asks voters to approve the base project at $102 million. This includes about $7.9 million in local funds, with the bulk of the project ”“ about $92 million ”“ paid through the state’s school construction program. It includes the base price, Sanford’s portion of common areas and some extras, such as a larger performing arts center that the state will pay for.

The second question asks voters to authorize an additional $2.7 million in supplemental improvements, which include additional bleachers and parking, turf upgrades and dehumidification.

Because of the school design and other factors, approval of the first question is projected to save taxpayers with a home valued at $160,000 about $22 annually in property taxes. Approval of the second question is projected to neither increase nor decrease property taxes, school and city officials say.

Charlie Plante expressed doubts about cost projections and concern about payback amounts at Tuesday’s meeting.

“If the people vote for this, good luck,” he said.

Ed Cormier disagreed, saying the project will move the city forward. And, he pointed out, if Sanford rejects the proposal, the state will take the $92 million it plans to use to build the school here and spend it in another community.

“We need this school,” Cormier said.

Carroll McMillan said he has concerns about the referendum being in January, but he favors the project.

“I’m not against the project. I have grandchildren, too,” he said. “I’ll certainly vote for this project. I feel it is necessary for the city of Sanford and for the children of this city.”

City Manger Steve Buck explained that the referendum must be held within six months of the concept approval by the State Board of Education, which came in October. The earliest date, Dec. 9, was felt to be too soon, and city and school officials wanted to avoid holding a referendum over the Christmas holiday. They chose Jan. 13 because communities making these decisions can have up to two votes on a project. Jan. 13 was the latest date a vote could be held, he said, while still allowing for another within the prescribed time frame.

Steve Cabana, who works in real estate, said it will be tough to bring in new families while the current high school is on accreditation status, and accreditation issues may result in an exodus of young families.

“If we miss this opportunity, we miss an opportunity to see this city grow, going forward,” he said.

Absentee ballots are available at the city clerk’s office.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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