|Clarksburg OKs Spending, New McCann Charter|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
09:18PM / Wednesday, May 16, 2012
|Moderator Bryan Tanner, left, Town Clerk Carol Jammalo, Finance Committee Chairwoman Mary Beverly and Selectmen Jeffery Levanos, Carl McKinney and Lily Kuzia.|
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Voters ran through the 24-questions town warrant in less than an hour on Wednesday night, passing all the articles with little discussion.
There were plenty of places to sit at this year's town meeting. Left, new School Committee member John Solari is sworn in.
Approved was an elementary school budget of $2.414 million, a McCann Technical School assessment of $197,299 and a town budget of $1.137 million. Town meeting also endorsed the renaming of the Selectmen's meeting room in Town Hall to the Ketchum Memorial Meeting Room in honor of one of the town's early settlers.
The turnout was far leaner than the past few annual meetings, with only about 40 voters attending. There was nothing particularly controversial on the warrant as in past years.
The town budget prompted a few questions about increases in certain line items, including $15,000 for an assessor (which the former town administrator had added to his duties); $23,000 more in debt (for the new highway truck); health insurance was up almost $13,000, and the significant rise in human service costs of almost $45,000, primarily driven by greater need in veterans services.
Voters also gave the OK several transfers from free cash to pay for the town's balance on infrastructure repairs after Tropical Storm Irene ($53,000), repair or replacement of the heating and air conditioning system at the library ($15,350), excess expenditures in the veterans services account for fiscal 2012 ($13,000) and the purchase of a new police cruiser ($42,000).
Town meeting also approved the application for a $1 million Small Town Road Assistance Program grant. The town has applied in the past only to be denied. Voters adopted a state law that allows towns to contract services, such as inspections, for which it did not have coverage. The law also allows Clarksburg to contract out its inspectors for a fee.
Voters rescinded $40,000 in borrowing authorization related to the purchase of the new highway truck. The debate over borrowing money for a truck at last year's meeting caused some confusion on the figure put forward. Officials had even planned a special town meeting earlier this year to ensure the borrowing itself was approved, but the state Department of Revenue accepted minutes from the meeting that showed the figure for $153,000.
However, the plan had been to use a $10,000 trade in and $30,000 in from the stabilization fund to reduce the debt. The town only needed to borrow $113,000. Town officials asked for voters to rescind the unused $40,000 in borrowing so it could not be used for anything else. "This is to protect your money," said Selectman Chairman Carl McKinney.
Superintendent James Brosnan explains the new charter for the vocational school district.
McKinney also endorsed the transfer of 10 acres of land at the bottom of Carson Avenue to the Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Department. The town had considered auctioning the land until it was discovered the property had been donated to the town for the benefit of the Fire Department.
"I think it would be appropriate for the town to deed it to them," said McKinney, adding he was fine with the department selling property to help with its operations. Voters agreed, passing the article without comment.
Superintendent James Brosnan of the Northern Berkshire Regional Vocational School District spoke on the new agreement being voted on by the seven member towns that send their students to McCann Technical School and the two towns wishing to join, Cheshire and Lanesborough.
The charter has been streamlined and updated to incorporate current state laws and will include the two new towns that already send students to McCann. The expansion of the regional membership will save Clarksburg money, he said. In response to a question, Brosnan assured voters that any additions, exits or modifications of the charter would have to be approved by all member communities.
|The tax bill on an average home in Clarksburg, valued at $170,597 in 2011, will go up about $116 next fiscal year.
The new charter passed easily. The meeting ended at 50 minutes.
New town officials introduced to voters included Selectman Jeffrey Levanos; Town Administrator Thomas Webb, who began his duties this week, and School Committee member John Solari, who was sworn in before the meeting by Town Clerk Carol Jammalo.