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Winchester Vote Clears Way For School-Saving Loan

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Saturday Winchester voted to accept a $2 million Bank of America loan to ensure that schools stay open. There were 931 yes votes to 243 no votes.

Mayor Lisa Smith was encouraged to hear the outcome.

“I’m extremely pleased with the results of the referendum,” she said.

The town’s financial crisis points back to Winchester’s former finance director, Henry Centrella Jr. He was arrested and charged with embezzling more than $2 million from the town.

It eventually fell back on schools, which, had this not passed, would have been forced to close next month.

“I don’t think we should be responsible for paying back a loan for a problem that we did not create,” said Winchester resident Steven Toth, who voted no.

“Towns exist to educate their children. That’s probably one of the most important reasons you come together as a town, so it’s tremendously important,” said Larry Marolda, who voted yes.

The loan or “grant anticipation note” as it’s called, would come from Bank of America and should be finalized within 10 days. It would be repaid as soon as the state pays Winchester $4 million in the spring. The interest is about $30,000.

“The $30,000, which is legal and interest fees, will be paid through a credit we’re receiving,” said Mayor Smith.

Another major vote will take place Monday. During the Town Hall meeting the board will vote on a $2 million supplemental tax to pay overdue bills the town owes. That would fall back on taxpayers, and they are encouraged to attend the meeting to voice their opinion. That meeting is at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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