When: 5 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Lenox Memorial Middle and High School, soccer field, 197 East St.
Highlight: Following last year’s pandemic-inspired freeze on increases for town spending and residential property taxes, the proposed municipal and school budgets show moderate increases. The preliminary estimated tax burden for homeowners is expected to average about 2.5 percent. Planning for multiple capital investment projects, deferred from last year, will require borrowing at current low interest rates. The budgets prepared by Chief Administrative Officer Christopher Ketchen and by the School Department have been approved by the Select Board and the advisory Finance Committee. But education spending won only a 4-3 endorsement from the Finance Committee, with several members concerned by the upward trajectory of personnel costs.
Agricultural zoning law: The Planning Board — with support of the Select Board — proposes a bylaw revision regulating commercial farming, neighborhood and commercial farm stands, and allowing the raising and keeping backyard chickens for personal use on residentially-zoned properties of less than five acres.
Wastewater plant upgrades: Voters will be asked to approve $3 million for the Permanent Building Committee’s design and the engineering costs needed for a federally required environmental upgrade of the town’s wastewater treatment plant. Since the appropriation requires borrowing, two-thirds approval is needed. The project’s total cost may approach $20 million in future years.
Public safety facility: To replace an outmoded police station and central firehouse, financing supporting a $2.1 million design and engineering plan for a new building requires a two-thirds vote in favor. The site has not been determined. Total cost of the project in future years could be up to $15 million, depending on land-acquisition expenses.
Town library repairs: To shore up the Dome Room’s ceiling, $1 million in financing is needed for design, engineering, repair and construction, though nearly half the cost should be covered by a state grant and other fund-raising sources. Two-thirds support is required.
Town Hall repairs: Design, engineering and construction costs for repairs to the roof, cupola and building, projected at $750,000, would be borrowed if voters approve by two-thirds.
The Mount farmhouse: The Edith Wharton house museum has proposed purchasing the deteriorating Laurel Lake 1906 farmhouse site, jointly owned by Lee and Lenox. The farmhouse, part of the Edith Wharton Park, would be restored by The Mount if two-thirds of town meeting voters in both communities approve, as well as two-thirds of the state legislature. The revised proposal reduces the parcel to be transferred to less than 1.4 acres, with the two towns retaining most of the shorefront within the public park.
Operating budget: $11,300,000 (up 4.6 percent)
Lenox Public Schools: $14,390,040 (up 3 percent)
Total operating budget: $25,674,755 (up 4 percent)
Total town spending: $29,004,401 (up 1.8 percent)
Tax levy: $16,407,437 (up 2.5 percent)
General government: $2,855,586
Public safety: $2,438,051
Public works: $961,763
Community Preservation Act: $634,069
Culture, Recreation: $464,423
Town Library: $421,004
— Clarence Fanto