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Lanesborough taxpayers face at least a 30 cent property tax rate hike

Lanesborough elementary school

Residents approved an overall budget of $10.34 million for fiscal 23 at Saturday's annual town meeting in Lanesborough Elementary School.

LANESBOROUGH — Lanesborough taxpayers are facing a possible hike of 31 cents in the property tax rate for fiscal 2023, say town officials.

However, the increase could have been higher if not for the Mount Greylock Regional School District lowering its assessment increase to the town by $100,000.

At May 14’s annual town meeting, residents approved an overall budget of $10.34 million for the fiscal year starting July 1. Town Administrator Josh Lang said the Select Board’s proposed spending plan is $190,000 more than the current budget — a 1.8 percent increase.

If approved as is, Lang said that amounts to an estimated tax rate of $19.41 per $1,000 assessed value, up from $19.10.

The spending plan, he said, shows the town is financially stable.

“We have $1.7 million in excessive levy capacity, which means we are nowhere near a [Proposition 2 1/2] override. We’re being fiscally responsible,” he said.

In order to maintain that fiscal stability, the Select Board and Finance Committee earlier this spring urged the Mount Greylock Regional School District Committee to reduce its assessment increase to the town for fiscal 2023.

The panel, which represents Lanesborough and Williamstown, had initially called for a roughly $6.1 million assessment to Lanesborough, a $252,000 hike — 4.2 percent — above the town’s current share of the budget.

District Superintendent Jason “Jake” McCandless said he and district staff went back over the budget and found six-figure savings for Lanesborough.

“We covered the $100,000 cut by taking in more school choice students at Lanesborough Elementary School and making reductions without cutting staff,” he said.

As for Williamstown’s assessment, it is $12.8 million, a $506,361 or 4.1 percent hike. Overall, Mount Greylock expects to spend $25 million in fiscal 2023, a nearly $1 million increase. Tuition money, school choice and other funds plus state aid will cover the expenditures not covered by local taxpayer dollars.

Lang says a pair of special money articles for the ambulance squad, approved at the annual town meeting, could have an impact on the tax rate.

Voters supported a total of $209,000 to subsidize the ambulance fund, because the first responder agency can not operate on user fees alone, according to Lang.

He noted $132,000 of that money is to pay for up to two full-time EMTs and other ambulance staff on a per diem basis.

Other key special money articles adopted:

• $247,177 for the Baker Hill Road District salaries and expenses

• $47,823 to pay the retiring DPW director for unused sick leave and vacation

• $43,000 for a sewer compliance study

‘• $30,000 toward a new police cruiser paid for by the Baker Hill Road District

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com.

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