Hinsdale voters to weigh budget with 3.4 percent spending hike

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HINSDALE — Voters on Wednesday will decide whether to support a $5.7 million town budget that calls for a spending increase of 3.4 percent in fiscal 2017.

Under the new budget, the tax rate would go up roughly 70 to 80 cents $1,000 of assessed property value from the current rate of $13.40, according to Town Administrator Ryan Aylesworth.

Annual town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Kittredge Elementary School.

Significant articles on the warrant vary widely.

One item proposes spending $10,000 to fund the town's ongoing effort to draft a master plan, with the promise of a matching investment from the state, if passed. Another asks permission to borrow $250,000 to repair a failed gate valve on the Plunkett Reservoir Dam.

"It's a significant expense and, unfortunately, we can't put it off," Aylesworth said of the latter.

The town has applied for a $150,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to offset the cost of the repair.

Another article would adopt a new bylaw to regulate solar installations with an eye to minimizing "impacts on scenic, natural and historical resources of the town."

A citizens petition — which was not recommended by the Select Board and Finance Committee — seeks a $150,000 allocation to fund overdue road repairs on East Washington and Fassel roads.

This year's budget includes extra provisions for the town police and highway departments, which would fund an extra full-time worker for each if its adopted.

Aylesworth said hiring a second full-time police officer and third full-time Highway Department laborer will put Hinsdale on par with other communities of its size.

"They'll help us improve the quality of services to residents across the board," he said.

The town once had seven part-time officers to supplement its police chief and one full-time officer, but its now down to five, and there's been some trouble filling shifts, according to Aylesworth.

"We're trying to avoid having any gaps [on the police schedule]," he said.

Plus, full-time officers require more rigorous training, so the new hire would bring important skills to the department, he added.

The town's Central Berkshire Regional School District assessment — comprising almost half the total budget — will shrink slightly in fiscal 2017, from $2.48 million to $2.45 million.

However, the town must pay an additional $50,000 on its vocational students, because the total number grew from 15 to 18 in the past year.

Another article proposes to spend $43,000 on new extrication equipment for Hinsdale Fire Department.

The town has also applied for a federal grant funds to purchase this equipment, and Aylesworth said if they receive the grant, the $43,000 will be redirected to other fire department needs.

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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