West Stockbridge voters approve budget with 3.3 percent spending hike

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WEST STOCKBRIDGE >> Voters this week passed the town's $5.1 million budget for fiscal 2017 at the annual town meeting, according to Town Administrator Mark Webber.

Eighty-five of the town's 1,104 registered voters participated in town meeting, which is 0.8 percent.

The fiscal 2017 budget represents a 3.3 percent increase over current spending.

Voters approved the biggest line item, the town's share of the three-town Berkshire Hills Regional School District's operating budget, which has increased $73,113, or 2.6 percent, to $2.87 million.

Also approved were a 14 percent increase in health insurance with no change in enrollment; a 23 percent rise in expenses for the town's share of the school district's capital budget; a 19 percent increase in community health, which reflects a rise in the Community Health RN's health insurance premiums; and a 17 percent increase in county retirement. The latter increase reflects a rise in payroll and assessment for unfunded future liability, which is projected to be satisfied by 2020.

Town meeting also authorized the borrowing of $150,000 for three department mental vehicles, including the replacement of the Highway Department's one-ton plow sander; a new van for the Council on Aging; and a pickup truck for the superintendent of buildings and grounds.

All told, 36 of 38 articles were approved.

A measure seeking a $3,000 appropriation to install microphones and sound equipment for Select Board meetings was tabled.

"It was not acted upon because the town can use existing equipment and can upgrade it," Webber said.

Town meeting took no action on a measure to adopt term limits for the Select Board and all other town boards.

A measure that would require any town committee or board to schedule a "citizens speak time," was approved in amended form.

"There was a lot of discussion," Webber said. "It was agreed that it would be appropriate but would have to be worked out by each of the boards, because it's not applicable to all boards."

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.


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