Budget increase on tap for voters

Tuesday, June 24
SAVOY — Voters will weigh a proposed $160,000 budget increase at a special town election tomorrow.

Voting is from noon to 8 p.m. at the Senior Center.

Town officials are hopeful that the Proposition 21/2 override will pass. Without it, they say, essential town services will have to be reviewed and either cut back or eliminated.

"Anyone that knows the dire straits that the town is in will understand this is a necessity," said Selectman Scott Koczela. "No one wants their taxes raised — I certainly don't. But the fact is that, even with the vote, we're going to be hard-pressed to have a balanced budget this year.

"We could close the transfer station down, but it would be almost impossible to start it up again, and everyone would be forced to bring their garbage to an adjoining town or hire a trash service."

Last November, voters defeated a $70,000 override — to make up a shortfall in the current fiscal year's spending plan — by a vote of 102-41.

Tomorrow's override vote is needed in part to fund $104,000 in salt, sand and overtime for snow and ice removal during the past winter. The rest — $56,000 — will be used to cover other shortfalls in various other town expenses.

The town's stabilization fund, which ordinarily would be used to help in the current funding crisis, has been drained during the past year to pay for town operational expenses.

Some budget increases are an effort to make up for cuts to this fiscal year's spending after November's override vote failed, such as a $2,000 increase for police salaries.

Others are increases that most other towns are facing, such as increases of $26,661 to the Highway Department and of $4,320 in school transportation costs, both related to the rising price of fuel.

"If the override doesn't pass," said Selectmen Chairman John Tynan, "we'll have to significantly cut across the board. We don't have enough money in the stabilization fund to balance the budget. We'd have to look at the whole thing and do really deep cuts. It would be extremely difficult to maintain services at the level they are today."

Town Clerk Jane Phinney said there are about 520 registered Savoy voters.

"If we get 200 (voters), I'll be very happy," Phinney said.

To reach Scott Stafford: sstafford@berkshireeagle.com, (413) 664-4995.


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