CLARKSBURG -- A bylaw recently discovered by town officials states annual elections are to be held on the fourth Tuesday in May, but the town has held the election on the third Tuesday for decades.
After discussion Wednesday, Selectmen unanimously voted to hold the election on Tuesday, May 27, and the annual town meeting the following day.
"I don't think we have any choice but to go with the fourth [week], because of the bylaw," Selectman Jeffrey Levanos said during discussion.
Officials are also in the process of receiving confirmation from the state's Attorney General's office on which bylaws have been approved at the state level, after it was discovered the town's records of bylaws were incomplete. The Finance Committee authorized Selectmen to use $225 during a joint meeting Tuesday to request official Attorney General records from 1937 to 2000.
It's unclear why the date of the annual election was changed. Selectmen Chairman Carl McKinney noted the election has been held the third Tuesday of May from 1975-2012.
Town Clerk Carol Jammalo speculated the date was changed to give people time after the long weekend, since the fourth Tuesday follows Memorial Day.
Jammalo said a date must be set so she could begin the election process, and suggested the town seek legal counsel before setting a date.
But Selectmen agreed they were obligated to set the date for May 27. Levanos added there was no proof that any other bylaw had been approved.
"My opinion is that we go with the fourth week, and we put it on the town warrant this year to do a bylaw change to hold it the third week," Town Administrator Thomas Webb said.
In other business, officials discussed how the town's financial picture could affect establishing a preschool.
"We have another tough budget year ahead of us," McKinney said. "The town has a great number of needs, some of which aren't going to be met, and our free cash is very limited."
A feasibility study by Guntlow & Associates found town hall could accommodate a preschool with construction costs ranging from $220,000 to $240,000, not including design costs.
McKinney noted the project could benefit town hall through removal of asbestos and lead paint.
Selectmen questioned some items included in the study, including a $15,000 kitchenette and new restrooms for adults at $12,000.
Town and school officials decided to invite a representative from Guntlow to the Feb. 12 Selectmen meeting to ask questions of the study.
"If we can slice $40,000 to $50,000 off, it's a lot more doable," McKinney said.
Northern Berkshire School Union Superintendent Jon Lev said the district is exploring multiple options, including using funds from stabilization to help fund the project and even merging with another local preschool.
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