Clarksburg voters OK $3.9M budget, reject water billing fix


CLARKSBURG -- Voters have approved a $3.93 million budget for fiscal 2015 and the purchase of a new highway truck.

Though the budget passed with little discussion at Wednesday's annual town meeting, voters defeated an article asking voters to raise and appropriate $6,940 to cover outstanding water bills owed to North Adams. The item received a vote of 31-15, well short of the four-fifths majority required to pass.

Selectmen Chairman Jeffrey Levanos said the town is responsible for roughly $16,000 in delinquent fees from Clarksburg homeowners who have not paid water bills.

Treasurer/tax collector Melissa McGovern-Wandrei had been directed to be more "aggressive" in pursuing delinquent water bills, and has so far collected $3,000, Levanos said.

Under terms contained in the failed measure, half of the remainder would have been be paid this year with the funds raised by residents; the balance paid next year. The delinquent residents then would pay back the town with interest.

But frustrated residents balked at digging deeper into their pockets to cover the outstanding bills of a few delinquent customers.

Several questioned why service to the offending homeowners was not shut off, but other residents noted shutting off water could be a health and safety issue.

Wednesday's meeting drew 55 registered voters for a 5 percent turnout.

The fiscal 2015 budget represents a $175,273 increase over the current year. The budget's largest increase is in an additional $45,517 in health insurance costs, which now total $250,575.

Other increases include $5,294 in assessor salaries and $15,500 in assessor expenses. Finance Committee Chairman Mark Denault attributed increases come from the town being required to hire a assessor clerk and to fund a home revaluation.

Of the total budget, $2.42 million is for operating the elementary school, a $1,921 decrease over the current year

Voters also approved a $242,744 assessment to McCann Technical High School, a $12,333 increase.

An article authorizing the Board of Selectmen to apply for a MassWorks grant for road repair was amended from $1 million to $1.7 million on the floor by Carl McKinney, former board chairman.

Voters also approved the borrowing of $72,657 for a new highway truck and $5,310 for the purchase of a fireproof cabinet and restoration of two damaged records books.

To reach Edward Damon:

or (413) 663-3741, ext 224.

On Twitter: @BE_EDamon


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