Windsor would see slight budget drop under proposed budget

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WINDSOR — The $1.79 million annual town budget proposal reflects a reduction over the current fiscal year and will allow Windsor to address some long-term needs.

Voters will gather at 7 p.m. Monday at Town Hall to act on the budget and special warrant items, including a commercial solar project bylaw, during the annual town meeting.

Selectman Douglas McNally said a reduction in the town's school assessment from Central Berkshire Regional School District — based on fewer students enrolled — will allow a slight budget decrease, and for funds to be put toward a vocational student transport vehicle and into a fire vehicle stabilization fund.

The CBRSD assessment is down for fiscal 2017 from the $1,052,414 approved for this year to $986,108.

Overall, the town operating budget is down slightly from the $1.8 million approved last spring.

The spending plan calls for a local tax levy of $1,445,445 and includes state aid and other receipts of $684,873.

With capital improvement spending included, the budget totals $2.13 million, according to information posted with the annual warrant on the town website — www.windsormass.com.

Among budget highlights are a 2 percent salary hike for town employees; an increase in insurance costs, primarily for employee health insurance; and a $13,000 hike in the legal counsel fund, to $25,000.

The latter was included in anticipation of costs related to the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. project. McNally said that item might be amended from the floor at Town Meeting, since the energy firm has suspended work on the project, but officials also have discussed the need for upgrading the town's zoning bylaws to address all types of large scale projects, which would require legal advice.

Voters also will be asked to approve a Windsor Solar Generation Bylaw, which is required for the town to be able to consider commercial solar projects, and would also establish standards and regulations under which such projects could receive local permits.

A two-thirds majority vote is required to adopt.

Also proposed is authorization for the town to seek special state legislation to allow Police Chief Thomas Barnaby to serve past the mandatory retirement age of 65 through April 2020.

And another proposal would change the method of payment for the town tax collector from the fees that are collected to a salary, with the fees reverting to the town. McNally said the fees in the small town are not sufficient to attract a qualified collector.

He said a similar change was made last year pertaining to the building inspector's position.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.


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