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How long does it take a town to spend nearly $2 million? In Lenox, 12 minutes, 24 seconds

Lenox library roof and cupola

Lenox voters on Thursday approved spending of $800,000 for improvements at the Lenox Library, including the roof, chimney, fire suppression, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems.

LENOX — It was over in the proverbial blink of an eye — the shortest special town meeting any long-timers here could recall.

The result: Nearly $2 million in much-needed infrastructure projects are now set to go, with no questions or comments from voters. And it took 46 residents out of the town’s 3,803 registered voters — a turnout just above 1 percent — only 12 minutes and 24 seconds to voice their unanimous approval.

All the projects are funded by cash reserves, fund holdovers and transfers, or short-term borrowing. Thus, town officials stressed, there’s no impact on property tax bills.

Pointing out that he had been asked why the available money won’t be used to reduce the tax rate, Select Board Chairman David Roche acknowledged that “we could do that. But then we’d be back in a year asking for a lot more money, because we act instead of react. When we see something that needs to be done, we do it.”

The requested funding is aimed at repairing, improving and protecting town assets, he told residents ahead of the vote. “We’ll do everything we can to keep the tax rate affordable for all of our residents,” Roche said.

The list includes:

• Enhanced security. infrastructure and plumbing repairs at the middle and high school, as well as playground improvements and carpeting and tile work at Morris Elementary School, $150,000.

• A downtown Church Street project this fall to replace a Department of Public Works wastewater main, using funds remaining from a pump station rebuild that came in under budget several years ago, $469,000.

• Repaving of town streets this fall in Lenox Dale and in residential sections of the downtown village, as well as the northern portion of East Street from the Pittsfield line, $500,000.

• Roof, chimney repair, fire suppression, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems at the town library, $800,000. That’s on top of a dome restoration project costing $1 million (plus $350,000 funded by grants) approved by annual town meeting voters in June 2021.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com or on Twitter @BE_cfanto

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