Thursday, May 14
ALFORD — A compromise school budget assessment formula will likely be put in place for the Southern Berkshire Regional School District for the coming fiscal year, after voters made Alford the fifth, and final, town to approve the measure.

The district's finances have been controlled by the state in recent years, after an alternative assessment method dissolved when Sheffield opted out.

The new formula will be an equal split between the statutory method used currently and the alternative method which was previously used. In 2011, that will become a 75 percent statutory and 25 alternative method split. The measure passed at Tuesday's town meeting in Alford 41 to 2, with one voter abstaining.

This will likely halt a lawsuit pending against Sheffield. Short of any other potential legal conflicts, the compromise formula will be instituted for the next two years as voters in Alford, New Marlborough, Monterey, Egremont and Sheffield passed the measure and Sheffield voters approved a proposition 2 1/2 override to pay for the budget as well.

Alford's total school budget for fiscal 2010 will be $601,392.01. And while some voters voiced concerns about having to pay more under the statutory method, which focuses more on property and personal wealth than on numbers of students, Alford residents will actually save money under the new formula for now.

Voters also approved the passage of the entire 2010 budget of $1,206,822.60, a 6.23 percent increase from the current spending plan.

The budget passed unanimously, except for a secretary salary of $27,851, which received two dissenting votes from persons opposing the 3 percent raise.

All other matters passed unanimously, including the transfer of $60,000 from free cash toward the purchase of a new pickup truck which will be used to plow and sand the roads.