Haverhill Council Approves $92K Consentino Election Expense, Again Asks State to Pay for JG Whitter

Pentucket Lake School voting precinct. (WHAV News File photograph.)

The Haverhill City Council Tuesday approved spending just under $92,000 to pay for the special election for a debt exclusion to pay the city’s share of replacing the Dr. Albert B. Consentino School.

As reported previously by WHAV, the question asks residents whether they favor an override of the state’s tax-limiting law to allow the school to be built through a debt exclusion. If approved, borrowing costs could be added to tax bills. Balloting takes place Tuesday, June 6.

Not all councilors were in agreement. Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua said he does not believe the special election is even necessary and was a waste of money.

“This ballot question could be on the November ballot at no cost to the taxpayer, where more voters will vote. But, what bothers me the most about spending $92,000 on this ballot question in June and not in November is that $92,000 would fund a new teacher, a new policeman and a new firefighter,” he said.

Despite his objection, councilors approved a transfer from the city’s budget reserve to the city clerk election account by a vote of 7-1 with Bevilacqua opposed and Councilor Melissa J. Lewandowski absent.

Haverhill for Consentino Tri-Chair Nathan Hartwell told WHAV earlier this month that, while Haverhill might squeeze the money out of its tight annual budget to pay for the school, the question is “how to responsibly pay for that and not negatively impact other schools and other city services.”

In other action, the Council approved a request by the Haverhill School Committee to send a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority regarding upgrading or replacing the John Greenleaf Whittier School.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini introduced that request, albeit without a lot of enthusiasm. “I submitted this at the request of the School Department and the School Committee. It is extremely unlikely that the MSBA will allow this.”

Nonetheless, councilors approved the request by a vote of 8-0.

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