New Marlborough annual town meeting preview

Posted

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: New Marlborough Fire House, 205 Norfolk Road, Southfield Village

This year's annual town meeting will include 57 articles. Of them, residents will decide whether to approve a change in the town's contribution to the regional school budget, to impose a room tax on short-term rentals and whether to prohibit marijuana businesses from coming to town. In addition, residents will vote on whether to approve new zoning amendments that would create two districts within the town: rural residential and village center residential.

Room Tax: The town will vote on whether to impose a 6 percent room tax on all short-term rentals in town. The local excise tax would be paid by the guests at bed-and-breakfasts, hotels, lodging houses, Airbnbs or motels. Proponents of the excise tax think it will be a positive revenue stream for the town that doesn't require a tax increase for residents. Others worry that New Marlborough doesn't have some of the attractions that other Berkshire towns have, and the tax will defer cost-conscious tourists from coming to the town and spending their money at local businesses.

Regional agreement amendment: With voters in all five towns within the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, New Marlborough residents will be asked whether to amend the district agreement to change the way the district assesses each town for its school costs. In response to unpredictable annual swings in school costs in each town, officials from all five towns are proposing a rolling average method of assessment, with a goal to spread costs more evenly from year to year. Voters in all five towns must approve the amendment for it to pass

Marijuana business prohibition: Residents will vote to either prohibit or allow each of the eight kinds of marijuana businesses in their town. The town previously had voted in a special town election to prohibit all the businesses, and it essentially will have to repeat the same vote at annual town meeting, as required by law. There will be eight questions related to this action, one for each kind of business that has been legalized in Massachusetts.

BUDGET:

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Fiscal 2020: $5.8 million

Increase: 3.2 percent

LINE ITEMS:

$5,700 to purchase a new voting machine to use during elections

$19,980 for the repair and maintenance of town cemeteries

$11,000 to obtain engineering services related to the Umpachene Falls Park Erosion Project

— Haven Orecchio-Egresitz


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