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Adams Changing Budget Hearings to Previous Procedure

Former Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco had initiated the joint public hearings held at the Visitors Center during his three-year tenure and greatly condensed the budget process. Department heads presented their budgets via PowerPoint and the public was encouraged to attend and ask questions.

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Pittsfield Finance Director: Grant Has Curbed Firefighter Overtime

The hiring of eight new firefighters through a safer grant is helping curb overtime. For years the overtime budgets for both the Police Department and the Fire Department have been underfunded, leaving a deficit that needs to be made up at the close of the fiscal year every year. This year, however, the city won a federal grant to bring on eight new firefighters and with that, overtime had dropped dramatically.

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Pittsfield Finance Panel Is No on $74M Wastewater Project

The City Council's finance subcommittee is recommending that the city hold off on borrowing $74 million to make major repairs to the wastewater system.

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Williamstown Finance Endorses Police Station, School Regionalization

The Finance Committee voted unanimously to support the plan of local school officials to expand the Mount Greylock Regional School District and the proposed purchase of a Simonds Road property for a new police station — questions likely to be posed to the town at a special town meeting on Nov. 14.

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Adams Finance Committee Rejects Adams-Cheshire Amendment

The Finance Committee rejected the citizen's petition article to amend the ACRSD agreement and allow Cheshire to independently fund their elementary school. "We usually don’t vote on citizen’s petitions and we just send them through but this one will have a major impact," Finance Committee member Jeffrey Lefebvre said. "I think we should give a sense of direction on what our feeling is."

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Lanesborough FinCom Approves Budget, Cuts Health Insurance Lines

The Finance Committee approved its version of the budget on Monday, but that board's decision to cut close to $50,000 from health insurance lines has the town manager concerned. "I really am concerned about the amount of money being cut out of health insurance," Town Manager Paul Sieloff said. "It is an unnecessary risk."

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North Adams Eyes Tax Title Sales For Tax Relief, Engineering

The city has a fairly good idea what the increase in its fiscal 2018 budget will be: 1.12 percent, largely driven by health insurance increases, pensions, the school budget and two new positions. But it doesn't yet know how much revenue will come in this year as it pursues some $2.6 million in liens, taxes and interest outstanding. The hope is to use some of those gains to offset taxes and prepare engineering for projects in anticipation of a debt drop-off in 2020.

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Williamstown Fin Comm Votes Recommendations on Town Meeting Articles

The Finance Committee on Wednesday recommended passage of all the fiscal warrants for May's Annual Town Meeting, but not until after it revisited a few of the arguments that punctuated budget season at Town Hall.

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Adams Finance Committee Votes Down McCann Budget

The Finance Committee approved the entire $15.5 million budget but voted to not recommend the McCann assessment to the town that has increased 27 percent. The Finance Committee had few concerns with the town side of the fiscal year 2018 budget Thursday but refused to recommend the McCann budget with a 10 to 1 vote, even though the selectmen approved it with a 3-1 vote.

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Adams Warns Regional School District No Support for Budget Increase

School officials arrived empty-handed to Tuesday's Finance Committee meeting because Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee's spending plan for fiscal 2018 is up in the air. The Finance Committee had penciled in the assessment for Adams based on a $19.2 million budget that should have been approved on Monday. Instead, the School Committee's three Cheshire representatives balked at a plan that would mean the closure of Cheshire Elementary School.

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Williamstown Fin Comm Pleased With School Budget Presentation

An appreciative Finance Committee on Wednesday heard an explanation of Williamstown Elementary School's proposed $6.8 million fiscal 2018 budget. The K-6 school has a budget that calls for a 2.39 percent spending increase over this year but which calls for a 3.64 percent increase in funding from town property taxes.

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Williamstown Ambulance Service in Dire Straits, Seeks Town Funding

The town's ambulance service is in critical condition, officials told the Finance Committee on Wednesday. And if Village Ambulance does not receive town support, it likely will go out of business in the next six months, according to the president of its board of directors.

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North Adams Finance Committee Recommends Building Purchase

The Finance Committee on Monday grilled administration officials on the proposed purchase of a defunct anodizing plant for use as a public services facility. After two hours of questioning by committee and audience members, the three-person committee voted to recommend a purchase-and-sales agreement of $995,000 for the building at 59 Hodges Cross Road to the full City Council on Tuesday.

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Williamstown Fin Comm Advises Amended School Budget to Town Meeting

The Finance Committee on Monday voted 6-2 to recommend that the annual town meeting approve the amended elementary school budget passed last week by the School Committee. After more than two hours of discussion that frequently veered off into conversations on pedagogy despite the best efforts of Chairman Michael Sussman, a majority of the panel decided not to second guess the conclusion of the administration and School Committee and instead endorse the request for an additional $58,424.

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North Adams Officials Plugging Budget Hole With Free Cash

City officials are looking to plug an estimated $300,000 health insurance shortfall for fiscal 2017 with a one-time shot of free cash. And it means putting "everything on the table" to find more cost savings in insurance premiums for the following year. "We were projecting a 7 percent increase in health insurance costs but it came in at 12.8 ... that shot our budget about $300,000 out of balance," Mayor Richard Alcombright told the Finance Committee on Tuesday.

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Pittsfield Looking to Refinance $4.2M in Long-term Debt

The city is looking to refinance $4.2 million in long-term debt incurred in 2008. Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood received City Council approval to start the process of issuing refunding bonds for the debt. The will city will basically be paying off those callable bonds from 2008 with money borrowed at a lower interest rate. The bonds will still mature in 2028 but, because of the new interest rates, Kerwood estimates some $425,000 could be saved over the next decade.

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Adams Finance Committee Recommends 2017 Budget

The Finance Committee accepted the fiscal 2017 budget of $14,567,135 and approved reserve fund transfers last week, but demanded better communication from the administration. The committee approved a reserve fund transfer request of $63,000 for repairs and state Department of Environmental Protection-mandated updates to the wastewater treatment plant last Thursday but felt blindsided by some of the costs.

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Lanesborough FinCom Asks Mount Greylock to Make Debt Principal Payments

The Finance Committee is recommending that the School Committee immediately start to tackle the principal on the debt being incurred for the Mount Greylock building project. The Finance Committee unanimously urged the Mount Greylock School Committee to make payments on both interest and principle in 2017 instead of delaying by only paying interest. Finance Committee member Steven Wentworth estimates over the course of the bond, making principle payments immediate will ultimately save as much

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North Adams Ending Year Under Budget; Increases Loom for 2017

The city expects to end the fiscal year without having to dip into reserves despite a bump in overtime costs for the police and fire departments. Treasurer David Fierro Jr. informed the Finance Committee last week during a review of the final months of fiscal 2016 that police and fire salaries are over budget for this year at a combined $225,000 because of greater than anticipated injuries on duty and overtime.

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Adams-Cheshire Schools Preparing For Downsizing

Town officials agree that the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District must close a school — and that it shouldn't be C.T. Plunkett Elementary. That consensus came during last week's review of the school budget during the third of four nights of fiscal 2017 budgetary review by the Selectmen and Finance Committee. Wednesday's review focused on Adams-Cheshire and McCann Technichal School that together make 39 percent of the entire $14.5 million spending plan for 2017.

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Williamstown Looks at Tax Increase to Fund Mount Greylock

The Finance Committee on Wednesday recommended that the town look at increased taxes to pay for a jump in the Mount Greylock Regional School District's assessment and look to free cash to offset an overage in the elementary school's budget.

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Clarksburg Looking at Town Budget of $1.4M for Fiscal 2017

After several years of last-minute budget cuts and unhappy suprises, town officials are feeling optimistic about next year's budget. "We are in a spot where we don't have to scramble and cut things," said Finance Committee Chairman Mark Denault on Monday. "I think it's probably the best budget we've seen at the beginning of budget season. ... "I think we're in a good spot."

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Lanesborough FinCom OK With Police, Fire, Highway Budgets

The Finance Committee is Okay with the proposed budgets for Police, Fire, and Highway Departments. The committee reviewed the three budgets as it begins to pick through Town Manager Paul Sieloff's proposed $10.5 million budget.

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