Richmond's proposed budget a tad higher

Tuesday, May 26
RICHMOND — Voters will consider 25 articles including the town's $5 million fiscal 2010 operating budget at Wednesday's annual town meeting.

The proposed budget is $40,084, or less than 1 percent, higher than Richmond's current spending plan.

The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. at the Consolidated School on Central Berkshire Boulevard (Route 41).

The warrant contains three amendments to the town's zoning bylaws proposed by the Planning Board that affect the lot areas for extra large dwellings, the width of a minimum size lot, and the minimum size of both yards and setbacks.

The changes would require the town to issue a special permit for the construction of an extra-large house, which would require a lot size of three acres and a minimum building setback of 150 feet from the road. The town considers the current minimum setback of 35 feet as being too close to the road.

"We are responding to the fact that during the past few years most of the building permits have been issued for the construction of larger houses," according to an analysis of the town meeting articles provided by Town Administrator Matthew M. Kerwood. "We are not trying to stop the construction of extra-large houses, but want to impose the additional steps of public review and board review required by the Special Permit process."

The second and third zoning amendments affect the construction and installation of small storage buildings with a reduced setback requirement in the Richmond Shores District. The board submitted the proposal in response to a request from the residents of Richmond Shores where the small lot size has made it impossible to meet the setback requirement of 35 feet.

Among the budget articles, the town's $2.7 million school budget has been level funded, there are no salary increases for Town Hall employees, and many line items have been reduced by five percent.

Voters will be asked to appropriate $135,000 to the town's stabilization account in anticipation of the purchase of a new fire truck sometime in the future. The appropriation represents a $100,000 increase in funds to the stabilization account from the current fiscal year, and is being requested to use the account as a "funding mechanism" to purchase future highway and Fire Department vehicles.

"The Finance Committee's philosophy regarding this $100,000 increase over the fiscal 2009 request is to begin to set aside the depreciation value of these vehicles to build up the funds which will be needed when it comes to actually purchase the vehicles," according to the Town Meeting analysis.

Another measure asks for a $14,250 appropriation to the Town Hall Repair Stabilization Fund, slated for repairs to Town Hall. If approved, the appropriation will increase the Town Hall repair account to $45,000.

Voters will also be asked to change the Board of Assessors from an elected to an appointed position. The same action was approved two years ago for the tax collector, treasurer and town clerk.


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