Proposed Adams budget would trim services, hike taxes 3.8 percent

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ADAMS — Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco has introduced a proposed fiscal 2017 budget that reduces some town services but stays within the levy limit.

The proposed $14.57 million budget, which was posted online this week, represents a 2 percent increase from the current budget. The residential tax rate would rise from $21.39 to $22.22 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, a 3.8 percent increase.

"This budget continues to address our structural deficit and makes progress toward fiscal stability for the Town," Mazzucco wrote in a letter to the Selectboard and Finance Committee. "Despite a challenging year we are maintaining all of our core services at the same or only slightly reduced levels."

Although the budget does not rely on free cash as has become routine in years past, it calls for the elimination of a full-time position at the Adams Free Library, the full-time deputy director at the Department of Public Works, and 1.85 dispatcher positions in the Adams Police Department.

A full-time van driver position for the Adams Council on Aging also would be reduced from 35 hours to 30 hours.

As a result of losing the position, the library may close entirely on Wednesdays, according to Mazzucco. It is currently open for four hours on Wednesdays.

The budget does estimate a 3 percent increase in funding ($146,321) to the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District, but the district's own budget unveiled Monday calls for a small decrease in the assessment. It was not immediately clear how that discrepancy would effect Mazzucco's budget.

Mazzucco also hopes to increase town revenues by adjusting its fees across the board, including building permits and parking tickets. He also suggested implemented an automatic annual or biannual increase.

"We must increase fee levels to coincide with operational and labor costs increases and we must increase the net amount of money the town takes in to continue remaining viable," Mazzucco wrote.

Although it would raise taxes, Mazzucco said the best part of the proposed budget is that it eliminates the town's reliance on free cash reserves. If approved, Mazzucco said the budget would represent the first time the town's stabilization fund has increased in the past 15 years.

"This reduction is the best fiscal news to come out of the FY17 budget and represents a real-and substantial step towards stabilizing our finances," he wrote. "Furthermore, this will allow us in future years, if free cash remains positive, to address our critical infrastructure and capital needs."

The budget also allocates funding for the continued efforts to spur progress at the Greylock Glen.

"Economic development is a priority and the Glen is our highest priority economic development project," Mazzucco wrote.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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