16 towns to decide Region 9 expansion

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MEXICO – Residents of the Region 9 School of Applied Technology’s 16 member towns have a chance on Tuesday to decide whether to allow construction of a renovation and expansion project at the River Road school.

Tentatively planned is a $4.9 million project that, if approved, would bring the building up to life, safety and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and construction of a 17,000-square-foot addition, and provide sufficient space for the addition of two new vocational programs.

The director of the Region 9 School of Applied Technology, David Driscoll, hopes the school will no longer be the smallest secondary vocational school in the state after the vote. Machias held the record of the smallest of the 27 secondary vocational schools until approval came to build a combination secondary vocational school and economic development center, said Driscoll.

“We want to give students a safe and healthy environment, bring all programs under one roof, and reconfigure the building so that it’s more like a school,” he said.

The concrete building was originally built as a heavy truck and equipment garage and sales space. Two of the existing programs, truck driving and diversified occupations, are located in modular classrooms near the building. Planned are two new programs in automotive technology and early childhood development.

The state will provide about $673,000 in an outright grant and $1.06 million in a no-interest, 10-year loan for the project. The remaining $3.165 million will be borrowed at the prevailing interest rate for 20 years.

The region must take advantage of the state’s contribution by February or it will be lost.

Driscoll said if the project is voted down, the region will still be required to spend about $1 million to bring the building up to health and safety codes as required by the state, and that money will be locally funded.

School officials have signed a contract to purchase additional adjacent land to accommodate the planned expansion. Closure on the property, at a cost that won’t be released until after the vote, is contingent upon passage of the funding request by voters.

Property tax impacts of the project have been estimated, for year one and year two of the loan, on a home valued at $100,000 at: Canton, $20, $53; Carthage, $20, $54; Dixfield, $20, $54; Peru, $19, $51; Byron, $7, $21; Mexico, $13, $35; Roxbury, $8, $22; Rumford, $8, $22; Andover, $10, $26; Bethel, $7, $18; Greenwood, $8, $20; Newry, $2, $4; Woodstock, $5, $14; Hanover, $11, $31.

Figures were unavailable for Upton and Gilead.

The yearly impact on homeowners will drop significantly during year 11, which is when the no-interest state loan is paid off.

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