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Sue Bush
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Adams Selectmen Divided Over Liquor License Fees

By Jen Thomas
05:47AM / Thursday, June 14, 2007

Selectmen Joseph Solomon
Adams - Liquor license fees in town haven’t changed in the last 24 years.

At a meeting Wednesday night, town Selectmen Donald R. Sommer, Joseph R. Dean Jr., Joseph Solomon and Edward MacDonald declared an impasse on negotiations about increasing liquor license fees.

Town Administrator William Ketcham recommended the increases based on the rates of comparable towns and adjusted for inflation since 1983. The licensing subcommittee, composed of Dean and Solomon, lowered the prices in the recommendations and presented them for consideration at the meeting.

“A raise is certainly needed here,” said Solomon. “We can’t keep a rate from 1983.”

Some of the recommendations of the subcommittee included changing the price of a one-day malt and wine license from $10 to $50, a one-day all alcohol license from $25 to $100, a license for alcohol to be consumed on the premises went from $750 to $1,250 for next year, and $1,500 for the following year, and an off-premises license went from $600 to $900 next year and $1,200 the following year.

Selectmen MacDonald and Sommer both disagreed with the decision of the subcommittee.

"Generally speaking, the increase in those recommendations is too great," said Sommer, who suggested making no changes to the rates on one-day liquor license rates and suggested raising the others up to $200 a year until the maximum amount had been reached.

Sommer said he thinks many of the users of one-day licenses are non-profit groups who aren’t able to afford the increased rates.

MacDonald called the recommendations "far too excessive."

"I won’t support it," he said.

Ketcham and Solomon defended the increases, saying the task of filing the paperwork associated with licenses was too much for the one staff person assigned to it.

Further, Ketcham said Adams, which has 11 establishments with liquor licenses, has rates far below even smaller communities, including Egremont.


"I’m sympathetic to businesses, but the fees need to be adjusted," Ketcham said. "What’s happening is property taxes are being used to subsidize the licenses."

"We can’t allow the town to bankrupt itself," Solomon said.

After a motion to accept the recommendations and a motion to accept a $200 a year increase were unable to gain favor, Dean said the board would "take up the issue at another time."

In Other Business

Also at the Wednesday meeting, Selectmen conducted the following business:

* Selectmen unanimously approved an outline of the requirements for the town administrator position, including clarification changes to the education and experience section presented by search committee chairman Edward J. Driscoll.

The next meeting of the search committee will be June 20 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. At that time, an advertisement to be displayed in statewide newspapers will be finalized.

* Selectmen voted 3 -1 to increase the rate of personal vehicle mileage compensation for town employees from $.38 per mile to $.44 per mile.

Sommer voted against the item, voicing concern that the amount of reimbursement exceeded the cost of expense.

The overall budgets for mileage have already been set, however, and no matter the rate per mile, the budget will not be exceeded, said Ketcham.

"I’m in favor of going to $.48. We still have control over the final amount they spend," said Solomon.

Ketcham was unable to say how many employees utilize personal vehicle mileage compensation but he did say most of the employees who use are animal control officers and inspection staff.

* The Selectmen unanimously ratified Natasha Skowronski as the Summer Parks Program director.

* Selectmen unanimously authorized the selling of a trailer on town property with no minimum price required.

* Dean said the board had yet to discuss the possibility of a special election to fill the vacancy left by Myra Wilk, who resigned from the board earlier this month. By the board’s next meeting, the issue will be discussed, he said.

* A recommendation was made to the department of public safety to install guardrails at the corner of Marshall Avenue and West Road after new tenants removed trees at the site. Dean said the exposed area could be a danger to local children.

* Selectmen heard a presentation by Board of Health Vice-Chairman Roy Thompson and Code Enforcement Officer Scott F. Koczela, urging the board and the public to be exercise cleanliness on their property.

Thompson highlighted three particular property owners in town who have elicited excessive written complaints regarding unseemliness. Together, these three landlords have racked up 140 documented violations and 51 citations totaling $2,550.

Thompson and Koczela had no outlined proposal for Selectmen to approve, but instead used the meeting to make an issue public.

"We need to move forward as a community with dealing with these deadbeat landlords through the system," said MacDonald.

Ketcham and the Selectmen suggested researching policies in other towns to find ways to combat the disregard for preserving the beauty of the town.

Jen Thomas may be reached via e-mail at jthomas@iberkshires.com or 413-663-3384 ext. 23.
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