OTIS - Otis is one election away from adopting a state-sponsored funding source toward local projects intended to improve the town's quality of life.

By a count of 48-26, annual Town Meeting on Tuesday night gave initial approval to the Community Preservation Act. A townwide vote is necessary for final approval, which could come as early as the state election in November.

If approved by voters, the CPA surcharge would be assessed starting in fiscal 2016.

Under the CPA, residential and commercial property owners will pay a 3 percent surcharge on the assessed value of their home or business, after the first $100,000. Seniors and low-income families can apply for an exemption to the fee.

Funds raised locally are matched by the state, which last year was a maximum of 50 percent.

CPA funds remain in town coffers and, subject to town meeting approval, can be spent on public and private ventures such as preserving historic and local landmarks, creating appropriate uses for open space and other projects in keeping with the character of the community.

Voters needed an hour to approve the 14-article warrant, including a $4.93 million operating budget for fiscal 2015 starting July 1. The spending plan is nearly $93,000, or 1.9 percent, more than the current budget.

Town officials say the budget impact on the tax rate will likely be an increase of 21 cents, or $73.08 added to the property tax bill of an average single-family home valued at $317,736.


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Town officials will formally set the tax rate for fiscal 2015 later this year.

Voters also approved borrowing $480,000 to pay for drainage improvement -- including replacement of the twin culverts -- on Reservoir Road below the Otis Reservoir dam.

Town Administrator Christopher Morris said the road project cost is 75 percent reimbursable through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state could pick up a portion of the remaining 25 percent. Morris noted the drainage upgrade could begin this fall at the earliest, or next spring.

Other special articles approved included:

n A three-year, $250,000 loan toward the replacement of a Highway Department dump truck.

n $25,000 to pay for an updated open space/recreation plan and master plan.

n $13,000 toward repairs to Harmony Hall, town library and Fire Station No. 1.

To reach Dick Lindsay:

rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,

or (413) 496-6233