Adams to vote on 2 percent spending hike, ban on plastic bags

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ADAMS >> Town meeting members will be asked to approve a $14.4 million budget at the annual town meeting on Monday.

The warrant includes that are almost entirely related to the fiscal 2017 spending plan — a 2 percent increase from the previous year — but also includes a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags.

For the first time in 10 years, town meeting members will not be presented with a budget that draws down the town's reserve fund and continues on a path to "right-size" the town's operations, according to a memo attached to the warrant submitted by the Finance Committee.

"In that spirit, this year's budget reflects a continued review of each line item within the town's operational and personnel expenditures. The town administrator has redoubled these efforts and strong reductions to personnel have been made accordingly," the memo reads.

Notably, the budget is the first that accounts for savings from utilizing a regionalized emergency dispatch center in Pittsfield instead of at the Adams Police Station.

Despite the careful approach to the budget, it does include some investment in the town's economic future. A total of $105,000 is appropriated to the Office of Community Development to move forward with development at the Greylock Glen.

Due to the complicated formula that determines how much each town pays to the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District, the town of Adams actually is seeing a 1.6 percent decrease in its assessment to the schools.

The proposed ban on single-use plastic bags, which was recommended by the Finance Committee, would not apply to items such as contain dry cleaning, newspapers, produce, meat, bulk foods and wet items. The ban would not encompass polystyrene, or foam, containers.

As written, the ordinance encourages stores to make reusable bags available to customers, but the stores may charge for them.

The Select Board will be responsible for determining if a bag meets the standards of the new ordinance and the inspection services department will enforce the new guidelines. Upon their first violation a retailer could face fines of $50 every day it persists. A second violation is punishable with a $100 per day and $200 per day for any further violations.

Several other Berkshire communities, including Pittsfield and Williamstown, have already approved laws banning the use of plastic bags. The Adams ordinance, if approved, would take effect on March 30, 2017.

A citizens petition seeking a ban on plastic bags last year failed to pass through the 2015 annual town meeting. It did not have the support of town officials, who at the time said it was not vetted and would be difficult to enforce as written.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376


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