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A rundown on this coming week's annual town meetings in the Berkshires

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.

Capsule reports on what residents will be asked to decide in town meetings from Monday, May 16, through Saturday, May 21.


Lanesborough

TOWN MEETING: Saturday, May 21, noon, Lanesborough Elementary School

TOP ISSUES: In addition to setting a new budget, residents will be asked to consider:

– Appropriating $132,000 from the ambulance enterprise fund to staff the ambulance squad.

– Spending $247,177 to fund the Baker Hill Road District which oversees the connector road to the Berkshire Mall.

– Adopting the provisions of a state law to establish Other Post-Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund.

– Transferring funds from the Baker Hill Road District Fund to buy a $30,000 police cruiser.

– Petitioning the state legislature to change the name Board of Selectmen to Select Board.


New Ashford

TOWN MEETING: Tuesday, May 17, 6 p.m., New Ashford Fire Station, 4 Ingraham Road

TOP ISSUES: In addition to setting a new budget, residents will be asked to consider:

– A proposal to re-word the general bylaws to insert gender-neutral terms by changing Board of Selectmen to Select Board, selectman to select board member, and from chairman to chair.

– A discussion regarding shared emergency services with other towns to ascertain the wishes of the town.

– To give the Select Board the power to appoint, and the power to terminate, a chief of the fire department, and to regulate the department and its members.


Otis

TOWN MEETING: Tuesday, May 17, 7 p.m., Otis Town Hall, One North Main Road

TOP ISSUES: In addition to setting a new budget, residents will be asked to consider:

– Decide whether to accept the use of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which the town took ownership of in 2019, as a cultural center.

– Cover debt payments for a slew of investments, including $174,540 for a 2023 John Deere grader and KME fire truck, $430,572.50 for principal and interest on the town’s wind project bond and $212,000 for the town’s fiber broadband project.

– Indicate support for the Fair Share Amendment on the November ballot, which would add a state tax of 4 percent on income over $1 million.


Richmond Consolidated School

Residents will gather Wednesday for town meeting at the Richmond Consolidated School.

Richmond

TOWN MEETING: Wednesday, May 18, 7:30 p.m., at Richmond Consolidated School, 1831 State Road (Route 41). Special Town Meeting, 6:30 p.m., same date and site.

TOP ISSUES:

– At the recently added special town meeting, voters will decide on approving an additional $1 million in financing for the new town hall and library project. The increase to an $8.4 million total cost was caused by contractor bids that came in higher than forecast.

– The town needs to raise $5,862,000 from taxpayers for municipal operations and schools, but that’s a decline of 1.2 percent from last year. Total town spending at $8,342,000 is up nearly 8 percent.

– The tax rate at $12.59 is down 1.2 percent, so on average, single-family homeowners will see a 1.2 percent decline, or $69, in their tax bill. The average single family-home is valued at $448,000.

– The key non-budget issue involves two zoning bylaw proposals, one from the Planning Board and a more restrictive version from three families adjacent to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s Hollow Fields Preserve, on public access to conservation and open-space land. A two-thirds supermajority is needed for approval of either version.


Stockbridge

TOWN MEETING: Monday, May 16, 6:30 p.m., Town Offices, 50 Main St.

TOP ISSUES:

– Total town spending at $11,550,000 is up $833,000 from the current year. About $400,000 of that is caused by higher school costs. The tax rate at $9.52 is up slightly from the current $9.38. Taxpayers for single-family homes should see a 3 percent increase on average. The average single-family home is valued at $600,000, up from $525,000 last year.

– Voters will be asked to approve $4 million in borrowing to fund a list of bridge and other infrastructure projects, including a new fire engine. A proposal for a $720,000 upgrade to the Red Lion intersection at South and Main streets will be deferred to a special town meeting in the fall.

– The Stockbridge Democratic Committee has placed a citizens petition on the warrant requiring town boards and committees to make their meetings available to the public remotely as well as in-person.


Williamstown elementary

Williamstown residents will gather Tuesday for town meeting at the Williamstown Elementary School.

Williamstown

TOWN MEETING: Tuesday, May 17, 7 p.m., Williamstown Elementary School

TOP ISSUES: In addition to setting a new budget, residents will be asked to consider:

– Altering the zoning bylaw to allow for more housing density in the town center, and reduce building lot requirements in South Williamstown from 2.5 acres to 1 2/3 acres.

– Providing $400,000 to the Cable Mills project, with the requirement that the new project include 27 affordable units in perpetuity.

– Provide $100,000 to the Affordable Housing Trust to spend on initiatives and programs related to affordable housing.

– Authorize a town charter amendment striking the requirement that the town manager must be a resident of Williamstown to hold the position.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com and 413-588-8341.

Managing editor for innovation

Larry Parnass joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, CommonWealth Magazine and with the Reuters news service.

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