DRACUT -- While signs throughout town announce a special election, some residents said Sunday they didn't know about Tuesday's vote on a 20-year tax increase to fund repairs at Greater Lowell Technical High School.
Lowell, Tyngsboro and Dunstable have approved their shares of the $65 million renovation project, and Dracut voters will head to the polls Tuesday to decide on a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion that would impose an annual tax for the next 20 years to fund their town's portion of the project.
The construction plan can't move forward without the backing of all four communities served by the school, so its future hinges on the Dracut referendum. However, some residents said they weren't aware of what was being asked of them.
"I watch the news, but I don't really follow local politics," said Dave Albert as he stood outside Super Clean laundromat on Loon Hill Road. "I focus more on the presidential and Senate elections."
Albert said that despite not following the issue, he'd say a "flat-out no" to higher taxes.
"I don't know anyone who's in favor of raising property taxes," he said. "I just don't think it's a good idea going into 2013, with the fiscal cliff ahead."
The Massachusetts School Building Authority will kick in $50 million for the renovations, leaving Dracut to pay $3.1 million, Tyngsboro $1.3 million, Dunstable $450,000 and Lowell $10.1 million, determined using a formula based on the number of students from each community that
Dracut is the only community seeking to raise taxes, with the other three drawing the money from their annual operating budgets.
Walking his dog in Veterans Memorial Park, Dave Dion said he did not plan to vote, but also doesn't want to pay more in taxes.
"I haven't looked into it," he said, adding that he usually votes regularly, including in last month's presidential election.
Residents Janice and Stephen Ledbetter said they hadn't decided whether they would go to the polls Tuesday, but said they support the GLTHS project.
"I've already voted enough this year," said Stephen Ledbetter, who then asked his wife if she planned to vote.
Janice Ledbetter said she thought she would vote in favor of the debt exclusion, because she believes the school system is important.
"Even though it's in Tyngsboro, Dracut has a strong enrollment there," she said. "And I think that's it right there. Education's an investment in the future."
In response, Stephen Ledbetter brought up how the town's library was temporarily shuttered in 1992 after voters rejected a debt exclusion that would have kept it open.
"This town closed down a library," he said. "How ignorant is that?"
Improvements to the 40-year-old school would include adding a cafeteria, making the building handicapped-accessible, and replacing the roof, exterior windows and doors, and metal siding. Heating, air conditioning, electrical and fire-alarm systems would also be replaced.
Figures provided by GLTHS show the added tax would cost the owner of an average $277,000 home between $17 and $30 more annually throughout the 20-year bond period.
Janice Ledbetter said she thinks that's a reasonable price for upgrading school facilities.
"Maybe our grandchildren will live here someday, and they'll want to go to the school," she said.
Darshin Trivedi acknowledged that he hadn't heard about the election, but said he opposes the measure regardless.
"I don't believe in Lowell Tech at all," he said. "They're gearing kids up to not go to college."
As she sold Girl Scout cookies from the parking lot of a Pleasant Street shopping center, Gerri Carney said she would vote for the debt exclusion, in part because her brother attended GLTHS.
"I think they deserve every opportunity," she said. "We supported Dracut High School, and the kids have the options to go to either."
Voting will take place Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at four polling locations. Precincts 1 and 6A vote at the Senior Center, 951 Mammoth Road. Precincts 2, 5, 6 and 9 vote at Lakeview Junior High School, 1570 Lakeview Ave. Precincts 3 and 8 vote at Moses Greeley Parker Library, 28 Arlington St. Precincts 4 and 7 vote at the Campbell School, 1021 Methuen St.
Follow Katie Lannan on Twitter @katielannan.