iBerkshire Briefs: Wind Permit Extended; Clarksburg Moving Funds; Richmond Tax Rate Up

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Clarksburg Meeting Set to Move School Funds

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The town will hold a special town meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. to deal with a accounting matter.

Voters will be asked to lower the school budget by $159,000 and change; that figure will then be designated as a grant. The money was provided to the school district through federal stimulus funds but the state had not determined exactly how it should be categorized.

If the money stays in the school budget, it will raise the tax rate, said Town Administrator Michael Canales. "It's a matter of moving it out of one category and into another."

The change is also required for Department of Revenue certification that will allow the town to set its tax rate and mail out third-quarter property tax bills. The special town meeting will immediately follow the regular Selectmen's

Florida Extends Hoosac Wind Permit

Florida Selectmen Richard LeClair, Neil Oleson and Ronald Briggs discuss town business.
FLORIDA, Mass. — The Selectmen granted another two-year extension on Monday, Dec. 7, on the special permit for a controversial wind-power project.

A public hearing on the extension for Iberdrola Renewables Inc. of Portland, Ore., developers of the Hoosac Wind Energy project, drew about a dozen residents who questioned Iberdrola representatives about the legal swamp that's stalled the project.

The State Appeals Court is expected to rule on an appeal by a group of residents and state environmentalists over Superior Court Justice Frank M. Gaziano's ruling earlier this year upholding a permit granted the project by the Department of Environmental Protection. Gaziano found the DEP followed correct procedures when granting New England Wind LLC a permit for the 20-turbine project. A decision is expected by the middle of 2010.

Planning for the $45 million Hoosac Wind Project began in 2003 and the first permits were granted in 2004 to construct the 30-megawatt installation on Bakke Mountain in Florida and Crum Hill in Monroe. While the town overwhelmingly supported the energy project, abuttors and local environmentalist group Green Berkshires have been fighting the wetlands permit granted by DEP since early 2005.

Iberdrola, formerly PPM Energy Inc., has twice before asked for extensions on the town permit.

The Selectmen also approved a block-grant application to the Department of Energy Resources to provide funds for solar-renewable projects for hot water and electricity for the Senior Center and electricity for the Town Offices and annual liquor licenses for Whitcomb Summit and Martin's General Store. 

Discussion also included the completion of the $50,000 Gabriel Abbott Memorial School acquisition of adjacent land; possible appointments to a local board, and a couple of loose-dog complaints by residents.

Kathy Keeser

Richmond Tax Rate Up

RICHMOND, Mass. — The average Richmond homeowner will see his property tax bill jump $247 this year.

The Selectmen set the fiscal 2010 tax rate at $8.92 per $1,000 valuation at the Dec. 16 meeting. That's up 73 cents from last year's $8.19, a hike of just under 9 percent.

This translates to an increase of $247 for a home valued at $338,973, which is the town's average home value. 

With the approval of the tax rate, the third-quarter bills will be mailed prior to Dec. 31, with a payment due date of Feb. 1. Payments can be sent to the Office of the Tax Collector, Town Hall, 1529 State Road, Richmond, 01254 or paid in person at Town Hall or via the www.richmondma.org by clicking on the "unipay online" button. 

Questions regarding the tax bills can be directed to the tax collector at 413-698-3355.

Applications for abatements are due also by Feb. 1 and must be submitted to the Assessors' Office.  Applications are available at Town Hall. Questions on the abatement process can be directed to the Assessors 413-698-2525.
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