Windsor pinches pennies, sets smaller 2020 budget

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WINDSOR — Residents of Windsor will see their local government spend less on operations next year, as the community prepares to shoulder capital expenses down the road for a new regional high school and its own broadband internet network.

At Monday's annual town meeting, 68 residents said yes to almost everything proposed on the warrant, including a plan to raise and appropriate $1,896,456 in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

That's $83,693, or 4.22 percent, less than spending in the current town budget. Turnout for the hourlong session was about 10 percent of the town's 675 residents.

"That's really due to the hard work of the Finance Committee, especially the chairman," said Select Board Chairwoman Kim Tobin, of the budget decline.

The finance panel is led by Scott Rogers, an economist.

General government operations spending for the coming year fell by $21,089, or 8.3 percent, to $221,525.

The biggest item on the yearly budget — education — also declined for the coming year. Town meeting approved spending on the Central Berkshire Regional School District, and for vocational education, of $998,280, or 2.5 percent less than this year. Costs could change if new vocational students move to town, Tobin said.

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To help ready the town for coming capital expenses, both for the fiber-optic system being installed this year and for a future new Wahconah Regional High School, the town opted to tuck $255,500 into special funds.

Tobin said one purpose of that is to try to keep the tax rate as stable as possible as new capital expenses emerge.

Residents agreed to allot sums for one-time needs on a variety of projects. Town meeting approved allocating $8,500 for repairs to an historic building, $32,500 for a self-contained breathing apparatus for the fire department and $5,760 to the police department for a radio and service weapons.

Part of the funds allocated will play catch-up with 2019 fiscal year costs: $45,568 for overruns in the winter roads maintenance and $20,000 for the current year's summer roads budget.

On energy issues, residents agreed to allocate $7,500 for a consultant to study ways to conserve energy use in town buildings. They also OK'd spending the same amount to find ways for the highway department to reduce energy use.

Residents also approved, over 16 no votes, a nonbinding resolution calling for Massachusetts to reconsider the state seal, supporting legislation to that effect. Opponents of the current 1884 state seal object to the likeness it includes of a Native American figure below a drawn broadsword.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.


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