LANESBOROUGH -- Batting away a large chunk of town officials’ first attempt to rein in government spending, Town Meeting this week reinstated $25,000 that had been proposed to be axed from the police department budget.
At the annual town meeting Tuesday night, 157 out of 2,889 registered voters ushered in a number of capital expenditures as well as Town Hall staff salary increases. What had been proposed as a slightly decreased fiscal 2013 budget at $9.26 million falls closer to $9.28 million, a small increase over fiscal 2012.
Of the two items town officials had targeted to begin to lower spending, townspeople approved a cut to the highway department’s budget by $10,000 through staff attrition, but balked at the elimination of part-time policing after impassioned testimonials from several residents who’d been helped by the local force, according to Selectman Bob Barton.
Barton said he was puzzled by the public’s decision to level-fund the police, which has the largest budget among comparable towns in the area.
"The biggest complaint the Selectmen hear routinely is that the taxes are too high, and yet the restoration of the $25,000 for the police was very strongly supported," Barton said. "So it’s unclear whether the high taxes complaints are as passionately held as we thought they were."
Town Meeting also gave the go-ahead for Lanesborough to join the McCann Vo cational Tech High School district, meaning all town students in vocational studies will attend the North Adams school if it offers their program of interest.
Residents OK’d all other items on the warrant except for a request from Mount Greylock Regional School District to establish a stabilization fund, an item the town has shot down in years past. Town Meeting also added about $3,000 to the fire department’s budget to fund equipment for its growing volunteer squad, Barton said.
On Tuesday, Lanesborough will hold its annual town election featuring no contested races and several positions with no candidates. Among those running are John Goerlach to keep his seat both as a selectman and a cemetery trustee, and Gr egory Wolf for Finance Committee.
No one is running for two vacancies on the Planning Board, two positions on the sewer commission, and one seat on the School Committee.
The question of whether or not the position of town clerk should become appointed -- which Town Meeting initially approved this week -- will also be on the ballot. Elect ions are from noon to 8 p.m. in the community room at Town Hall.
If you go ...
What: Lanesborough town elections
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Town Hall community room, 83 N. Main St.