Tyringham voters approve budget, bridge repair funding

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TYRINGHAM — Annual Town Meeting needed an hour last week to approve all municipal pending measures for fiscal 2017, including a nearly $1.38 million operating budget.

Voters gathered at Town Hall unanimously supported the spending plan that takes effect July 1, with some minor adjustments in the bottom line. The new budget is roughly $110,000 less than the current one of $1.49 million.

Town meeting voters also backed a pair of infrastructure expenditures. Taxpayers agreed to borrow $100,000 to pay for necessary bridge repairs, town officials citing spans on Main, Jerusalem and Monterey roads as most in need of an upgrade.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation may help pay for the Monterey Road bridge work, according to Select Board Chairman Gerard Miller.

"MassDOT has raised red flags on some of these," he told the voters.

Miller noted the bridges are still safe to travel on, otherwise they would be closed.

In addition, voters added $50,017 to the town's Highway Stabilization Fund, boosting that account to nearly $261,000. That nest egg along with about $150,000 in so called "free cash" gives Tyringham a good financial fallback for unexpected expenses.

"If things come up [in fiscal 2017] with bridges or broadband, we'll be in good shape," said Finance Committee Chairman James Consolati.

Town officials updated the residents regarding the progress of high-speed internet service coming to this rural community of about 350 year-round residents under the auspices of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute.

Consolati noted the engineering plans are complete and the project is ready to bid, but MBI has yet to release the anticipated $400,000 the state agency has set aside for Tyringham. The town is seeking a public-private partnership with a provider who will build and operate the system, the cost of which has yet to be determined.

Tyringham may have to kick in taxpayer dollars of about $200,000, but town officials hope the MBI grant and the provider can cover the cost.

Earlier this year, a special town meeting authorized spending $28,500 to hire Mid-Hudson Data of eastern New York to map and design the town's broadband system. Tyringham decided to deal directly with MBI to bring broadband to town and forgo being part of WiredWest, a consortium of Western Massachusetts communities working with MBI to bring high-speed internet to its member towns.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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