Alford voters OK next steps toward broadband network

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ALFORD — Voters passed a new $1.37 million budget, updated tax breaks for residents ages 65 and older, and paved the way for operation of the town-owned broadband network at Tuesday night's annual town meeting.

All measures on the 11-article warrant were approved, said Select Board secretary Roxanne Germain, and about 40 registered voters were present.

The meeting began with a moment of silence for Bob Licther, Alford's "driving force for broadband," she said. The town and its broadband committee have spent more than a decade working to bring high-speed fiber-optic internet access to Alford. This year, AlfordLink, the town's broadband service, is connecting people to the internet. Lichter passed away in March.

Approval of several articles on the warrant were necessary to establish the broadband network. They included creating a broadband maintenance stabilization fund and a five-member commission, AlfordLink Commission, to administer it. Voters also elected to dissolve the Municipal Light Plant, created in 2015, to work on broadband.

Residents also voted to update the local senior citizen property tax exemption to include more seniors. Voters approved decreasing the eligible age from 70 to 65 years; increasing the exemption amount by 50 percent to $750; increasing the income limits to $20,000 for singles and $30,000 for married couples; and increasing the whole estate limits to $40,000 for singles and $55,000 for married couples.

Kristin Palpini can be reached at kpalpini@berkshireeagle.com, @kristinpalpini on Twitter, and 413 629-4621.

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