Great Barrington: Budget unveiled, tax rate projections, food truck fest

Proposed FY 19 budget unveiled

The town's proposed $11.7 million operating budget is up $557,000 from the previous year, due to higher fixed and unavoidable costs including a rise in debt interest, and higher pay due to contract negotiations with town workers, according to Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin, who presented the numbers to the town Select Board Monday.

Salaries, she added, make up 39 percent of the budget.

To keep as much of the costs down as possible, Tabakin said she had recommended reductions in areas that are not fixed.

The proposed numbers, she said, "assume the same level of service by the town," and assumes the stability of factors like utility costs.

Less expected new growth in coming year may affect tax rate

There are fewer new building projects coming this year that will generate tax revenue. Expected revenue from this new growth will be around $144,000, she said.

The last two years, however, saw a sharp climb in new growth numbers. In 2017, new revenue was $533,000, and in 2018 it was $318,000, said Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin.

Town Assessor Christopher Lamarre said a new apartment and retail complex at the top of Railroad Street is a boost for new revenue this year, and that the town had been significantly bolstered in the last two years by new revenue from two large commercial solar installations.

"This is the kind of stuff that helps spread the tax burden around," he said.

Lamarre noted that having less "big taxable projects on the horizon" might affect the property tax rate, currently at $14.98 for every $1,000 in assessed value.

"Who knows where the tax rate will fall this year," he said.

Summer food truck festival coming to Fairgrounds June 30

Food Truck Festivals of America Inc. is bringing 25 food trucks and craft breweries from within a 2-hour radius to the Great Barrington Fair Ground on June 30.

The Allston, Mass.-based company specializes hosting such festivals around the country. Founder and Executive Producer Anne-Marie Aigner told the town Select Board the Berkshires Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival will adhere to the town's health and safety regulations, and that the bartenders are TIPS certified.

She also said the company knows it has to follow local environmental rules about wetlands on that site.

Heather Bellow can be reached at or on Twitter at @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871


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