Clarksburg voters OK $4.21M budget, but $200K in additional funding may come to a vote in fall

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CLARKSBURG — Town voters approved a $4.21 million budget at May's annual town meeting but could soon be asked to chip in more.

Town officials expect to introduce a proposal for $200,000 in additional funding annually outside the limitations of Proposition 2 1/2 sometime this fall.

Of the annual $200,000 request, half would be dedicated to improvements at Clarksburg School and half would be dedicated to addressing the town's infrastructure needs, according to Town Administrator Carl McKinney.

"Our budget has actually gone down in real dollars for the last two budget cycles. There's nowhere left in the budget to provide the money that's needed," McKinney said.

On May 29, residents approved a $4.21 million budget for fiscal 2019, a decrease of 0.33 percent over the previous year's budget.

The request for additional money would be a ballot question and would pass with a simple majority.

Part of the infrastructure needs are the town's 17 miles of road, which, McKinney noted, come at a rehabilitation cost of about $1 million per mile of road.

"I'm not advocating going $17 million over [the levy limit], but we need to maintain what we have and fix what is broken," he said.

It's up to the new Select Board to determine when a vote would take place, but McKinney is aiming for early fall. The process would include the town's Finance Committee and public information sessions, he stressed.

"Ultimately it's going to be the people who determine what they want their town to look like," McKinney said. "It's better to start now versus having everything collapse around us."

The additional funding could be established with a timeline — five years before a review or permanent.

In consecutive votes last year, residents turned down a $19 million elementary school upgrade project — $11.3 million of which would have been covered by the Massachusetts School Building Authority — citing concerns about the scope of the project and a price tag that could hinder the town moving forward.

The school was built in 1951, with expansions in 1967 and 1972.

Issues cited by school officials during the push for the project included noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, roof leaks and asbestos in ceiling tiles.

At the recent town meeting, voters approved a $6,000 expenditure from the school stabilization fund for a new boiler at the school — a project funded almost entirely through a state grant.

On the town side, McKinney said it has "old roads, old culverts old bridges, old sewer lines" and more in need of maintenance or repair.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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