AGAWAM — The Agawam City Council approved two resolutions related to the high school building project, officially setting the stage for the June 11 special election that will decide if it moves forward or not.

The first resolution appropriates and authorizes the borrowing of $230,245,404, which covers all costs associated with the project. Mayor Christopher Johnson said the authorization is contingent upon approval from voters or receiving Massachusetts School Building Authority reimbursement. Councilor Dino Mercadante said that this was just a procedural vote.

“It must be done and we’ll let the town have their voice on June 11,” he said at the March 6 meeting.

The second resolution sets up the election and places a debt exclusion question on its ballot. Debt exclusions allow cities and towns to temporarily increase the property tax levy limit beyond the 2.5% per year set by the state law known as Proposition 2½. Johnson has previously said the town already has enough space under its levy limit to raise enough taxes for the project, but that a debt exclusion would give it more financial flexibility.

In remarks to the council, Feeding Hills resident William Clark questioned the need for a debt exclusion while the town has room under the levy limit. He also claimed the town had $38 million in unused funds, and that the levy limit has gone up $3 million a year for the past five years.

“What is the need when we can fund the high school and then, if you want to create even more room in the levy limit, we could cut taxes by $2 million, because clearly we’re overtaxing. If we have $38 million in cash, we’ve been overtaxed,” he said.

Clark also said that debt exclusion would drive businesses away to surrounding towns that aren’t passing large tax hikes, or prevent them from moving in.

In their own discussion on the resolutions, councilors did not question the need for the debt exclusion. Councilor Robert Rossi asked if the added taxes could be a separate line item on tax bills. Johnson said debt exclusion means the payments on the project bond won’t count towards the levy limit, not that the project costs more or that it will affect taxes any more.

“It doesn’t generate a second tax bill, it’s not a second line item on the tax bill,” he said.

Councilor George Bitzas said the council had to be transparent about the project, and to educate people on it through open forums, then to do what the people ask them to do.

“Do I want to see the taxes go up? For my family or anybody else? No. But sometimes we have no choice. But the choice is for the people. The people must know what’s going on and the pros and cons,” he said.

Johnson hosted an informational meeting about the project on Feb. 26, and is in the process of planning more.

Both resolutions were approved unanimously.

Hotel, license hearings

Besides the votes, the council also teed up two public hearings for April 1. The first covers a proposed zone change for 1422 Main St. that will allow prospective owner Shield Hotels LLC to build a “40-room boutique hotel,” according to the council petition. The back portion of the parcel is currently zoned Residential A-2 while the portion facing Main Street is zoned Business A; the change would make the entire parcel Business A.

The parcel is currently owned by Renu and Rajesh Rayonia, according to the Planning Board application, and houses the D’ Patron Mexican restaurant. The purchase and sale agreement between the Rayonias and Shield Hotels requires the zone change to go through. The parcel is beside the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery and is less than a mile north of Six Flags New England.

The Planning Board will also conduct a public hearing on the zone change during its March 21 meeting, where plans for the hotel may be shared. Planning Board meetings start at 6 p.m. in the Senior Center, 954 Main St., Agawam.

The second deals with an ordinance that would amend Chapter 180 and Chapter 114 of the town code. The amendments would require dealers seeking Class 1 and Class 2 licenses to get site plan and special permit approvals from the Board of Appeals, before the application goes to the City Council.

City Council public hearings take place during regular council meetings, which are at 7 p.m. in the Senior Center. All are welcome to participate.