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Westport school looks to add generator

In addition, the school's tennis courts will be repaired and resurfaced to make them usable for students and community members. Some upgrades to the phone system, including a voice messaging system, are also part of the plan.

Though the total cost of the project is anticipated to be nearly $500,000, the school is eligible for state aid that will pay for roughly 63 percent, bringing the local cost down to $186,000 or less.

State EXCEL aid, which is specifically meant to help schools comply with federal security requirements, Gallagher said, will cover about $80,000 of the project.

Gallagher estimates the additional tax levy would mean an annual increase of between $1.20 and $3 per $100,000 of assessed value, depending on STAR exemptions.

Gallagher said he is continuing to seek both state and federal grants that could potentially lower the cost even more.

"If we get the project approved in December, we're hoping to do the job in August."

Still, not everyone is enthusiastic about the half-million-dollar proposal. Westport resident George King said he and several others are concerned about the timing of the vote.

King said taxpayers in Westport are already being asked to support a major project in the form of a multi-million-dollar municipal building that will be used to house school, town, and fire department vehicles, and that adding more expenses could jeopardize both projects.

"Right now, this is a luxury," said King, "and I'm not sure a luxury is needed at this time."

King also expressed concern that the project is apparently being brought forward at a time when there's a vacancy on the school board.

A vote to fill that vacancy, prompted by the resignation of Kathleen Carter-Martinez, will also be on the ballot Dec. 22. Candidates for the position have not yet been announced.

"There was no vacancy on the school board when we decided to go ahead with this project," Gallagher said, noting the board had unanimously approved the idea before Carter-Martinez resigned.

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