Lanesborough voters OK shift in school assessment formula


LANESBOROUGH >> Town voters have overwhelmingly approved a change in the way debt service tax rates are calculated for Mount Greylock Regional High School's member towns.

The proposed change, approved at a special town meeting Tuesday night at Lanesborough Elementary School, was in response to concerns by town residents surrounding a possible construction/renovation project at the high school.

With data showing a decline in Lanesborough enrollment figures over the past few years, some in town feared they could be locked into paying an unfair share of the construction cost.

The change to the Mount Greylock Regional Agreement was drawn up by a subcommittee of residents of both Williamstown and Lanesborough.

Under the current formula for bond debt service, each town's enrollment and assessment figures are set at the time of the bond issue and remain there for the life of the bonds, or 20 to 30 years.

The new formula allows for changes in both enrollment numbers and property assessments from year to year, working off of a rolling five-year average.

With the new calculation, each town's share of debt service would change from year to year as enrollment and property assessments go up or down.

The changes were approved unanimously at a Williamstown special town meeting on Nov. 17.

During Tuesday's town meeting, one man wondered why assessments of tax-exempt properties such as Williams College and the Clark Art Institute are not included as part of the tax levy in Williamstown.

Carrie Greene, chairwoman of the School Committee, said that would put an unfair tax burden on Williamstown voters because the town doesn't collect taxes on those properties, as they are owned by nonprofits and are therefore tax-exempt.

The proposal only drew six "no" votes. There were 161 voters in attendance, out of about 2,200 registered in Lanesborough, at the special meeting.

"I am very pleased," Greene said after the vote. "Now we can move forward and get approval from the state Department of Education and focus on the proposed high school project."

Contact Scott Stafford at 413-496-6301.


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