Lee annual town meeting preview
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Lee Middle and High School, 300 Greylock St.
Town meeting representatives have a $23.8 million budget to consider, an increase of $600,000 over the current spending plan. Nearly half the increase is attributed to a 4.1 percent hike in education spending. Town officials are proposing just a 1.9 percent hike in local tax revenue to help fund the budget.
Downtown zoning: The Planning Board is offering a zoning amendment in the Main Street commercial district to encourage increased density, housing and mixed-use development projects. If approved, Benchmark Development of Berkshire County would seek a special permit from the board to redevelop the former Price Chopper property. The estimated $18 million to $22 million investment of housing and a community market includes two buildings at nearly 50 feet tall; existing zoning doesn't allow that height.
Roadwork: Two warrant articles totaling almost $600,000 will pay for road paving in town; nearly half would be paid with state highway money, the rest funded through short-term borrowing. On the fiscal 2020 paving list is 1.2 miles of Summer Street, from Laurel Street to High Lawn Farm, and at least one street to be determined. A third article calls for spending $338,000 in surplus money to pay off the fiscal 2019 loan for roadwork.
Civil Service: Town officials are looking to repeal the town meeting vote of 1932 to accept the police officer candidates from the Civil Service list. By approving the repeal, Lee Police Chief Jeff Roosa says the town can be more effective and efficient in hiring officers. Right now, Roosa said the hiring process is six to eight months, too long when trying to stay at full strength in Lee with 10 officers.
Fiscal 2020: $23.8 million
Increase: 2.6 percent
$9.3 million: To fund Lee Public Schools
$2.37 million: To fund the sewer department
$2.17 million: For public safety
— Dick Lindsay
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