Alford voters say no to Southern Berkshire Regional School District assessment

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ALFORD Voters approved the town's $1.5 million fiscal 2020 spending plan and all but one of the 10 articles that were under consideration at Tuesday's annual town meeting, according to a town official.

The most expensive measure — the town's share of the budget for the five-town Southern Berkshire Regional School District — fell by just three votes, 19-16.

The vote on Alford's $479,313 assessment to the district took place after a representative of the Finance Committee asked the town not to support the measure, which represents an increase of 10.1 percent — the second-highest increase among the district's five towns.

Alford's action has no effect on the $14 million district budget because the spending plan had already been approved by voters in the four other towns, Egremont, Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield. Four of the district's five towns are required to approve the spending plan in order for it to go into effect.

A measure that amends the school district's assessment formula was approved.

Voters also approved an increase in the town's debt service from $57,000 to $117,000 in fiscal 2020. That item increased because Alford is required to make the first payment on the $1.6 million in loans it obtained to pay for the installation of the town's own fiber-optic system. A $27,000 debt service item is slotted to pay for a fire truck and related equipment, a $500,000 expenditure that voters approved in 2016.

The exact number of registered voters who participated was unavailable, but the town requires only 15 of its 380 registered voters to be present for a quorum to hold the annual town meeting.

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