SAVOY — Thanks for attending this first virtual town meeting in Savoy’s history, the session’s moderator said as the meeting wrapped up Wednesday.
“And the last,” said Eric Krutiak.
Wishful thinking or not, the meeting got the job done, as roughly three dozen residents, most joining a Google Meet session by phone, took about an hour to approve the town’s spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
They might have handled town business faster, if not for the awkwardness of determining the residency of those calling or logging in.
And because he could not see all participants, Krutiak had to ask first for “no” votes. Since most of 22 warrant articles passed without opposition, including the big-ticket expense items of education ($815,834.24), highway ($273,112.40) and general government ($156,450), the moderator didn’t have to ask for “yes” votes.
In all, Savoy’s spending will rise by 2.64 percent to $1,933,366.93.
A few articles generated debate, including the town’s decision to allocate an additional $20,000 for the Council on Aging. Select Board member John Tynan explained that after months of prep work, the town is moving to make use of shared elder services with the town of Adams, particularly transportation.
“There’s still a lot of details to work out,” Tynan said. “It should be a really good thing for Savoy.”
Tynan said a letter will go out to Savoy seniors with information on how to take advantage of new services through Adams, where officials are already helping provide Savoy residents with transportation to medical appointments.
“It’s something we don’t really have right now,” Tynan said, in response to a resident’s question about the expense.
Erica Girgenti, director of the Adams Council on Aging, joined the meeting to say that in normal years, her office gets as many as 100 requests for transportation from Savoy. In five months this year, that number is 60. Girgenti said that having transportation options is a significant help to families with elders. “And alleviate some of that caregiver burden,” she said.
Girgenti told the meeting she looks forward to building upon current senior services for the wider region.
The meeting’s lightest moment came when, having seen an allocation of $500 for librarian expenses, resident Erin Malloy asked: Where is the library?
Actually, it’s a closet in Town Hall. And with that building closed to the public during the pandemic, it has been inaccessible. The $500, resident Ronna Brandt explained, is used to purchase passes to area museums that people can borrow. The closest also houses a small inventory of books.
“We’re working on possibly moving the library to the small school, so there is more public access,” she said.
The next budget includes a 59.8-percent increase, from $6,050 to $9,672 for police pay. When asked, Tynan explained that the money will cover both an increase in the number of patrol hours covered and the rate of pay.
While most budget items were held level or faced modest increases, one expense was cut by half. The cost of sending students to the McCann Technical School in the coming year, based on enrollment, will fall by $83,288 and now total $84,312.