Williamstown voters to decide changes to taxes for Mount Greylock


WILLIAMSTOWN >> At a special town meeting set for Tuesday, Williamstown voters will be asked to approve a change in the way the town tax burdens for the Mount Greylock Regional School District are calculated.

In response to Lanesborough citizen concerns over a possible bond issue to finance a new construction/renovation project at the school — and with data showing a decline in Lanesborough enrollment figures over the past few years — some in the town wanted assurances. If enrollment continues to decline, they wondered, would they be locked into paying a higher share of the construction cost when they have a shrinking number of students attending the school?

According to Steve Wentworth, a member of the Lanesborough Finance Committee, a new formula was determined to allow for changes in both enrollment numbers and property assessments from year to year, working off a rolling five-year average.

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.

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

The proposed changes need approval at special town meeting. After the Williamstown vote on Tuesday, Lanesborough voters will gather at a special town meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at the Lanesborough Elementary School.

"Over the last five years, Lanesborough enrollment has gone down," Wentworth said. "If that keeps happening, we could be paying more for fewer students. So this would be a more equitable agreement.

Carrie Greene, chairwoman of the Mount Greylock School Committee, said this is an important question to settle before the district embarks on a bond issue to pay for a new school project.

"It is important to decide on an equitable agreement before entering into a long-term bond program," Greene said. "So this is the time to think about the formula, with both towns concerned about the way populations are changing."

She noted that the proposed changes are supported by the Mount Greylock School Committee, the Williamstown Selectmen and the finance committees of both towns.

"It makes sense," Greene said. "It doesn't give anybody everything they wanted, but it is a compromise. It is equitable and dynamic."

The special town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Williamstown Elementary School.

Contact Scott Stafford at 413-496-6301.


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