A House bill has opened the door to shared services for South Berkshire towns. When the time comes, the towns must be willing to walk through it.
The bill, sponsored by Lenox Democrat William "Smitty" Pignatelli and passed by the House last week, gives Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge a limited exception to the state's conflict of interest law which has blocked efforts to share administrators (Eagle, October 1). The bill, developed with input from the State Ethics Commission, must still pass the state Senate, where it is supported by state Senator Ben Downing, a Pittsfield Democrat.
Sharing town and school services are a necessity to reduce costs in a county suffering from a decline in population. Seventeen South Berkshire communities are considering an ambitious compact and Lee and Lenox have already made strides, but Stockbridge is dragging its feet. The Selectmen dismissed an opportunity to at least explore sharing a town administrator with Lenox when its town administrator retired last summer.
Shared services will happen because towns no longer have the financial resources to operate as totally separate entities and because taxpayers will demand it. South Berkshire has been at the forefront, in large part because of the efforts of Representative Pignatelli, but North Berkshire, specifically Adams and North Adams, must get on board. The concept of shared service may once have been the wave of the future, but it has become a current necessity.