Sheffield annual town meeting preview

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When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Mount Everett Regional High School, 491 Berkshire School Road

This year, voters will decide on recreational marijuana zoning bylaws and a 3 percent local option sales tax on retail marijuana products. Voters also will consider a 6 percent rooms tax on all lodging, and a 0.75 percent local meals tax. An amendment to the regional agreement among towns within the Southern Berkshire Regional School District also will be up for a vote. This would change the district's cost assessment method for each town.

Recreational marijuana: Residents will vote on a comprehensive set of bylaws regulating all aspects of the recreational marijuana industry in town, including cultivation, retail sales and permitting. Town officials say the proposed bylaws protect the public and are fair to the industry. They recommend that voters approve a 3 percent local tax on retail sales.

Lodging, meals taxes: Following the lead of other Berkshire towns, the town is asking voters to decide on whether the town should impose a 6 percent tax on all lodging, including hotels, and bed-and-breakfasts. A 0.75 percent meals tax also is up for a vote. The proposed taxes are at a similar rate as those set in surrounding towns.

Regional agreement amendment: Like voters in all five towns within the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, Sheffield 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 wild and unpredictable annual swings in school costs in each town, officials from all five towns are proposing a rolling average method of assessment that would more evenly spread costs from year to year, making for more predictable budgets. Voters in all five towns must approve the amendment for it to pass.

BUDGET:

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Fiscal 2020: $10.5 million

Increase: 1 percent

LINE ITEMS:

$302,550 for capital expenses

$126,600 for solid waste management and disposal

$50,000 for town building repairs and improvements

$49,800 to buy and equip a new police cruiser

— Heather Bellow


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