MONTEREY — They approved the budget, amended a few things, had a hearty debate and decided to keep the marijuana entrepreneurs at bay for up to one year.
They also said they would raise money to fix an important bridge, and allow dogs on all town property except the beach, as long as their owners pick up after them.
On a sunny Saturday morning, roughly 56 voters said yes to the town's $4.5 million budget, which includes $1.6 million in costs for its share of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District.
One line item that sparked the most questioning: whether to keep $35,000 in the budget in case a part-time town administrator should be hired. That's right — the town doesn't have one, after Willie Morales filled the post and left three months later at the end of February.
Town officials said they had worked hard to straighten out finances, and that right now, an administrator was not needed.
"We are a very small town, and I think we need a very small government," said Select Board member Carol Edelman. She said a town administrator would give the town "less local control."
Select Board Chairman Steven Weisz said that not only is there a cost savings to this town of around 960 people, but that some other headaches had been chased away by the board.
"We got rid of a lot of the toxicity that was in Town Hall that caused people to come and go," he said.
Resident Lisa Smyle reminded everyone that in 2010 voters approved a new form of government that would include such a manager, and that such a structure should be put in place.
But residents will still have to be taxed on that budgeted $35,000, even if it isn't spent. Knocking out that $35,000 from the budget would result in a zero increase from last year's budget.
Stanley Ross had an idea — reduce it to $1 to keep the line open in case a new hire is needed.
Eileen Marcus said she thought the money should stay in full.
"If we take it out, it's always harder to put it back in."
But Susan Cooper suggested that maybe the budget salary should be increased. She said she had been on the search committee for the manager, and that one was never found because of the part-time hours.
"It may be the case that we cannot find such a person," she said, "but I don't agree that we don't need one."
Select Board member Kenneth Basler pointed to all the turnover at Town Hall in a short period as one reason to hold off.
"It was a crazy time ... with a professional finance team and a clerk in place, we're gradually turning around what was an incredibly bad situation, slowly, in a common sense approach."
Finance Committee member George Cain said the committee agreed the manager was not needed at the moment, and that it was better not to spend the money "when you don't need to."
In the end, the amount was reduced to $1.
And Basler asked everyone to give the board another year, and take a look at a coming consultant's evaluation of the town at the end of that time.
"We may need a town administrator," he said. "I frankly like the idea."
What everyone did agree on was that the town does need money to fix the Curtis Road Bridge, a critical span for town highway and Gould Farm trucks. Voters approved raising $130,000 for this and appropriating $90,000 for the total $269,000 cost.
Then there was the matter of what to do about those marijuana entrepreneurs knocking on Monterey's door. With growing and processing as well as retail sales legal on July 1, voters said they wanted to hold them off for at least six months, and up to one year if needed, until the town can decide how it wants to regulate such an industry, or ban it altogether.
They agreed to a moratorium from July 1 to Dec. 31, and if needed, for another six months after that to July 1, 2019.
Cain, who also works in real estate, said he had already received a phone call about a listing for 140 acres for such a purpose.
The town's attorney, Jeremia Pollard, said if the town is itching to enact a ban of any sort, "you need to get the wheels rolling on this very soon."
Two Planning Board members urged residents to come to meetings to help with a complex undertaking of making these decisions and drafting bylaws.
If the town decides on a ban, Pollard also said that both a ballot vote and a town meeting vote would be required, since in the statewide ballot question the majority of Monterey voters were in favor of legalization.
Pollard explained that, apart from property tax revenue, profits to the town from any type of endeavor would come through a town hosting agreement with a company.
He used Williamstown as an example, since it's the only Berkshire town where a hosting agreement is complete with a 3 percent local tax tacked on. That amount is the maximum allowed by the state.
In the event the town wants to go this route, Pollard said he would advise doing just as Williamstown did.
"I'm looking for the max, which is 3 percent," he said.
Heather Bellow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.