Egremont to vote on nearly level-funded budget, school repairs at annual town meeting
EGREMONT — A nearly level-funded budget, school repairs and buying a new dump truck will highlight next week's annual town meeting.
Voters will consider a municipal spending plan of $4.08 million for fiscal 2017, an increase of $22,000 — less than 1 percent — over the current budget. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Everett Regional School in Sheffield.
Town officials have reined in taxpayer spending thanks, in part, to a decrease in Egremont's share of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District budget.
"Our school assessment is down [$76,000] more due to miscalculation of our assessment for this fiscal year," said Mary Brazee, office administrator for the Select Board.
Brazee pointed to another line-item savings for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1; the town subsidy to help fund the water department. She said the allocation would drop from $64,000 to nearly $24,000 as the town service becomes more self-sufficient through user fees and other non-property tax funding sources.
The 20-article warrant also includes $455,000 worth of special money articles, nearly all, if approved, would be paid for through town surplus funds dubbed "free cash," according to town officials.
Topping the to-do list is $170,000 toward buying a new dump truck with a plow and sander for the highway department and setting aside $115,000 for crucial repairs to the Egremont Village School in South Egremont. The town-owned building is run by the school district.
While the town also is seeking up to $100,000 in state historic preservation funds for the project, approval of town funds isn't contingent on receiving the grant award.
"We really want to do this work," Brazee said. "The foundation is crumbling and it lacks handicap accessibility."
She noted failure to get the grant money would prompt town officials to seek the additional money at a special town meeting likely to be held in the fall.
The two non-monetary articles last on the warrant deal with energy and lighting, respectively.
Article 19 calls for Egremont to enter into a net-metering agreement with the company operating a solar array in Athol. By purchasing the energy credits, town officials hope to lower their municipal electric bills by 18 percent.
The final article, via a citizens petition, seeks to tighten town bylaws regarding outdoor lighting to prevent it from spilling onto adjacent properties. The proposal also calls for commercial lighting to be turned off between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., unless it's low-level lighting for security purposes.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.
On the web ...
For the complete Egremont warrant, go to egremont-ma.gov, click on meetings, notices and announcements atop the page and scroll down.
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