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2009 Election & Town Meeting Briefs

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Florida Passes $2.5M School & Town Budget

FLORIDA, Mass. — Voters OK'd a total town budget of $1.15 million for fiscal 2010 at the annual town meeting on Friday night, June 20.

The brief meeting of about 30 voters passed all 17 articles on the warrant, including $1,148,270 for the operation Gabriel Abbott Memorial School and tuition to Drury High School and an assessment of $183,239 to C.H. McCann Technical School.

Spending items were up mininally over this year's budget. The town's operating budget of $1,006,127, for example, was up less than a percent over this year.

Voters also approved $12,000 for a town audit, a $60,000 payment into the Berkshire County Retirement System ($39,064 of which to be raised in taxes), $1,920 for state police patrols and $2,500 toward a state Emergency Management Agency matching grant. They also passed several articles that will place fees from plumbing, electrical and building inspectors into revolving accounts.

Sandisfield Approves Majority of Town Warrant Items

SANDISFIELD, Mass. — During a 3 1/2-hour meeting on Saturday, May 16, town meeting voters approved 68 of 69 articles on the town meeting warrant.

Roughly 100 of the town's 529 registered voters were in attendance. They approved the $1,037,000 budget for school operations, money for school bonds, snow and ice removal and fire department and  ambulance company maintenance, among other items.

The lone article that  did not pass was a vote to authorize Selectmen to apply for a program that would provide funding for a full-time police officer for three years. A fourth year would have been funded by the town.

Low Turnout for Williamstown Election

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — It was a quiet town election this year, with every position unopposed.

The turnout on Tuesday, May 12, was only 5 percent, according to Town Clerk Mary Kennedy, compared to last year's 21 percent that saw Planning Board officers elected for the very first time.

The board members had been appointed by the Selectmen; some opponents to the change had said elections would only create a panel full of incumbents.

In this election at least, they were right, since no one came out to challenge Patrick D. Dunlavey, who was elected to the board last year. He was re-elected with 187 votes to a full five-year term.

Also elected was new Selectman Thomas E. Sheldon with 196 votes. Sheldon replaces Richard Steege, who declined to run again.

By 2 p.m., only 130 voters cast ballots and poll workers read books and magazines as they waited through the long day. By the end of the day, 220 votes were cast out of a potential 4,345; in 2008, 968 out of 4,573 registered voters participated. Kennedy had tried to get the 13-hour day reduced but was turned down by the Selectmen.

Elected to two three-year terms on the School Committee were J. Adam Filson with 185 votes and Jennifer T. Thompson with 192; three-year term for library trustee, Marilyn S. Faulkner with 209, and one-year term for trustee, Thomas R. Mahar with 199; five-year term on the Housing Authority, Marilyn J. Head with 174, and three-year term on the McCann School Committee, Thomas R. Mahar with 202.

Lanesborough Town Meeting OK's Appointed Assessors
By Al Hartheimer
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Town meeting on Tuesday, May 12, overwhelming approved an article on the town election ballot that would make the assessors an appointed board but two articles addressing water issues in Berkshire Village were withdrawn.

The Selectmen recommended the passage of Article 4, which would set the stage for appointed assessors, saying the positions required a certain amount of expertise because assessments needed to be fair and accurate since they are the basis for the tax rate.
However, for Article 4 to pass, Question 1 on the ballot will also have to pass.

Articles 16 and 17 were designed to create a methodology to help Berkshire Village solve its water main problem. There is no formal organization in Berkshire Village that has status to apply for grants for new water lines. Article 16 would have set up a "Betterment District" that would have status to apply for grants. Article 17 would have provided $15,000 for the initial engineering work needed to apply for grants. A grant for that work was anticipated to repay the $15,000.
Just before Article 16 was to be moved, Lori DiLego, a resident of Berkshire Village, asked that the two articles be withdrawn. The residents of Berkshire Village, many of whom were present, have convinced themselves that they would ultimately be responsible to repay the $15,000. They are opposed to that. They are also of the mind that they can apply for grants themselves and solve their own water problems. 
The articles were withdrawn.

Article 5, a proposed noise ordinance, drew lots of discussion, pro and con. After the vote, by "yeas" and "nays" the moderator announced that the article had passed. This brought forth many requests for a vote by count and the moderator so ordered. After that vote, the moderator again announced that the article had passed by about 80-40 only to reverse himself a few minutes later to say there had been an arithmetical error and that the article was defeated by a vote of about 90-80.

The town election is Tuesday, May 19, from noon to 8 at Town Hall.

There is a three-way race for selectman. Incumbent Chairman John W. Goerlach, 44, of Williamstown Road is being challenged by former selectmen William DiLego, 78, of State Road and Douglas R. Webb, 62, of Miner Road.

There is also a three-way race for library trustee between Prudence Barton of Kessler Road, Jane Stevens of Olsen Road, and Sherri Wilson of Summer Street.

Newcomer Elected to Selectmen in Great Barrington

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen has a new member with the election of Deborah Phillips to a three-year seat on Monday, May 12.

Phillips polled the highest in the three-way race for two seats on the board, garnering 649 votes to incumbent Sean Stanton's 597, enough to win him the other seat, and Patrick Long's 363. Phillips is former chairman of the Conservation Commission; Long is a member of the Finance Committee.

In the only other race, Moderator Edward G. McCormick outpolled candidate David Magadini by 641-27.

Turnout was 21 percent, as 943 of the town's 4,442 registered voters cast ballots.

Elected unopposed or by write-in to vacant seats were Finance Committee member Norma P. Siegel, three-year term; Louis James Stark, Finance Committee, three years, with eight write-in votes and library trustee; Ron Majdalaney, Board of Health, three years; Jack Musgrove, Planning Board, three years; Walter F. Atwood III and John J. Broderick Jr., both three-year terms as constables; Karin Beebe, library trustee, three years with 74 write-ins; Ariane Blanchard, Housing Authority, one year; Dana K. DelGrande, Housing Authority, five years; and Kathleen A. Kotleski, Zoning Board of Appeals, three years.

Update from Berkshire News Network; May 19, 2009
Edward McCormick very easily defeated write-in candidate David Magadini for town moderator, when the town held its annual election just over one week ago.

Although Magadini was defeated 641-27, he was out petitioning for a recount yesterday apparently believing the outcome of the election was incorrect. Great Barrington Town Clerk Marie Ryan told the Berkshire News Network on Monday that Magadini took the forms out last Wednesday. Ryan also noted that Magadini also filed a petition for a recount last year when he lost by a similar margin.

LeClair Keeps Seat in Florida

FLORIDA, Mass. — Incumbent Richard LeClair retained his seat as selectman, fending off challenger Bradley O. Furlon, 129-78, in the town election on Monday, May 4.

Town Clerk Lisa Brown, who was re-elected with 187 votes, reported a good turnout of 207 of the town's 545 registered voters, or 38 percent.

There were no other races on the ballot, but Brown said there were a number of write-in votes vacant seats, including for David Washburn who received four votes to become a trustee for the Soldiers Memorial for three years. A one-year term as trustee remains vacant.

Re-elected or elected unopposed were Moderator Steven W. Brown, 180 votes, one year; Auditor Jana Hunkler Brule, 176 votes, one-year term and the same number of votes for a three-year term on the McCann School Committee; Douglas P. Miller, 174 votes, one-year term as tree warden; Assessor Doris B. Lewis, 178 votes, three-year term; Neil G. Oleson, 167 votes, three-year term on the Board of Health; Ralph O. Dodge, 173 votes, three-year term as constable; Tax Collector Linda Haggerty, 171 votes, three-year term; Vicki A. Winchell, 162 votes, three-year term as treasurer; Barbara C. Newman, 175 votes, three-year term on the Planning Board, and Stephanie Pare, 170 votes, three-year term as library trustees.

Windsor OK's Hike in School Budget

WINDSOR, Mass. — Voters passed both school and town budgets at the annual town meeting on Monday, May 4, at Town Hall but rejected an article that would have created a separate Board of Health.

The town budget of $690,000 includes freezes on wages and salaries for town employees, all of whom are non-union. Surprisingly, voters also OK'd an assessment to the Central Berkshire Regional School District that will add more than $150 in property taxes to the average homeowner next year.

The $1.1 million assessment is up $127,000 because of a spike in income wealth in the town - likely because of a lottery or inheritance. At least five towns in the seven-town district of Becket, Cummington, Dalton, Hinsdale, Peru, Washington and Windsor must OK their share for the district budget to pass.

Voters also approved $193,000 in road spending on the assumption it would be covered by Chapter 90 state funding and defeated an article that would put aside $5,000 for the demolition of a building to be taken by tax title.

The Selectmen, which currently oversees town health matters, had hoped to create a Board of Health because the demands had become too great. The board often has to hold separate meetings to deal with health issues. Voters, however, wanted more information before approving the creation of a new town board.

Hancock Cuts School Budget

HANCOCK, Mass. — Hancock voted Monday night, May 4, on an amended school budget, reducing the $1.2 million spending plan by $60,000.

The School Committee met before the town meeting and reduced its budget by $20,000, citing reduced tuition to Mount Greylock Regional High School and program changes. It expect to return another $20,000 to the town later in the year.

Voters, however, approved the first $20,000 change then cut the budget by an extra $40,000, forcing the School Committee to find reductions before the end of this fiscal year.

The rest of the warrant, including the town operating budget, passed easily.

No Friction at Dalton Meeting

DALTON, Mass. —  All 21 articles submitted by the Board of Selectmen were approved by voters during the town meeting at Wahconah Regional High School on Monday night, May 4, in just under two hours.

Voters approved $13.6 million for the fiscal 2010 budget, knowing that expected state aid has yet to be approved by the Legislature.

Cheshire Assessor Holds onto Seat

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Incumbent Assessor Everett L. Martin defeated challenger Linda J. Garner 250-210 at Monday's town election on May 4 and Stanley T. Zarek was re-elected unopposed to his 45th one-year term as moderator.

Adams-Cheshire School Committee member Darlene M. Rodowicz won over Jennifer S. McGrath, 236-196, as Cheshire representative, although McGrath had already withdrawn from the race. Also returning to the School Committee is Carol A. Corrigan for the Adams seat with 352 votes.

In the only question on the ballot, voters OK'd by 323-120 to exempt farm machinery and animals from excise taxes.

The assessor's race was the only one the ballot. Re-elected or elected unopposed were Selectman Daniel Delorey, 341 votes, three-year term; Water Commissioner Patrick H. Klammer, 372 votes, three-year term; Tax Collector Rebecca A. Herzog, 389 votes, three-year term; Town Clerk Christine B. Emerson, 375 votes, three-year term; Cemetery Commissioner John A. Girard, 373 votes, three-year term, and Planner Christopher D. Walsh, 364 votes, five-year term.

Less Than 20 Voters Approve Washington Warrant

WASHINGTON, Mass. —  A tiny turnout at town meeting on Saturday, May 9, approved a town spending plan for next year of $115,287 and assessment to the Central Berkshire Regional School District of $511,660.

All of the 22 articles on this year's warrant were passed unanimously by the 19 voters (of 335) who attended the meeting.

The articles included $100,000 for vocational eduction tuition and transportation; $291,000 for the Highway Department; $20,000 toward a fire truck and $41,650 for the transfer station operation. A line item in the Police Department's budget for health and safety was reduced from $2,240 to $1,500 before the $28,000 article was passed.

Becket Rejects Road, Historic Home Articles

BECKET, Mass. — Articles to accept a private road and change guidelines for demolition of historic buildings went down in defeat at town meeting on Saturday, May 9.

Homeowners on Jacob's Hollow Road, off Route 20, and other advocates had petitioned the town to accept it as a public way, citing the increase in traffic along the roadway. But after lengthy discussion that article was defeated by the majority of the 75 or so voters who attended.

Also rejected were two changes to the demolition bylaw that would have designated all homes more than 50 years old as historic buildings and extended the review of their demolition from six months to a year.

Other questions on the 18-article warrant passed, including a town and school budget of $4.77 million and $14,500 to cover the cost of filing a Community Development Block Grant by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission that could bring in $700,000 for housing upgrades.

Cheshire Moves Town Meeting Date

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Voters at town meeting on Tuesday, May 13, were unanimous in moving the annual event to the second Monday in June.

Article 5 had been placed on the warrant by the Selectmen because the state was always late in providing hard numbers on which to build the town budget. The article only need a two-thirds vote to pass.

The 50 or so voters approved the rest of the warrant, which included using $85,000 from free cash to reduce the tax rate, transferring some $54,000 generated from timber and a truck sale into a water surplus account and the creation of a trench inspector to be appointed by the Selectmen to conform with a new state law.

Compiled by iBerkshires and Berkshire News Network.
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