West Stockbridge voters OK $5.7M budget

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WEST STOCKBRIDGE Voters approved 36 of 37 articles and the town's $5.7 million fiscal 2020 spending plan in just under two hours Monday night at annual town meeting.

The operating budget represents a 4 percent increase over current town spending.

The only measure that failed to pass was a proposal placed on the warrant by citizens petition that asked the town to adopt Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, a traditional method of parliamentary procedure to guide the town moderator at annual and special town meetings. It was defeated by voice vote.

Voters did approve a second measure placed on the warrant by citizens petition, to rename Monument Valley Regional Middle School in Great Barrington, the middle school for the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, after W.E.B. Du Bois. That measure was approved by 14 votes, with 43 voting in favor and 29 against. The measure also was approved by town meeting in Great Barrington on Monday night.

The warrant's big-ticket item, a $3.1 million allocation for the town's share of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District's capital and operating budgets, was approved along with a measure that would allow the town to adopt the Community Preservation Act, subject to the results of an election ballot vote in May 2020. The proposal to consider the adoption of the CPA, which passed unanimously, includes the enactment of a 2 percent surcharge on all taxable properties, with the first $100,000 of valuation exempted.

Voters also approved a measure that would allow the town to borrow $140,000 to buy the Card Lake parking lot, and the appropriation of $25,000 in free cash to purchase a small excavator jointly with the town of Richmond.

Eighty of the town's 900 registered voters, or 9 percent, cast ballots Monday. Those in attendance provided a round of applause at the conclusion of the meeting for Town Administrator Mark Webber, who was participating in his 22nd and final annual town meeting while serving in that position.

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