Lenox Sets 2014 Town Meeting Warrant

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee met Tuesday morning to set the warrant.

LENOX, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen have set the warrant for the annual town meeting on May 1.

The warrant would set budgets of $6.1 million for town expenses and $11.4 million for school. The town's budget is decreasing by about $300,000 while the school has increased 2 percent.

The biggest benefit to the town budget is a decrease of about $700,000 in debt services while most departments received modest increases.

Chairman David Roche said the budget is "sustainable and well-thought out." It provides pay increases to all staff, causes a small hit on the taxpayers and retains all of the town jobs. The budget is set at $6,110,581.

"We've got long road ahead and we have some challenges," Roche said, but added that the town got through this budget cycle so there are reasons to be optimistic about the town's finances.

The school budget asks for an allocation of $11,417,503. That total excludes $939,750 for debt, which is absorbed into the town's budget, anticipated tuition revenue, and insurance and bonds — also absorbed in the town's budget.

Overall, the budget is $9,060,050 in operating expenses and $2,357,453 in employee benefits. With receipts and other revenues at $1,284,000, the school is penned in to operate on a $12.7 million budget.

Warrant Article 5 calls for $77,000 for vocational placements.

Article 6 asks for $1.5 million for the Water Department, Article 7 for $1.9 million for the Sewer Department, Article 8 for $383,134 for the Ambulance Squad and Article 9 for $253,317 for the library.

Article 10 asks for $2 million in capital expenses for various departments: $1.4 million for highway, $364,00 for school, $20,000 for the Fire Department, $18,000 for the Police Department, $20,000 for town buildings, $6,000 for the academy building and $134,000 for the Community Center.

Article 11 allows the town to accept and use state Chapter 90 funds for road repairs.

The Community Preservation Committee is also requesting $18,750 for the administrative expenses line. It is also recommending $50,000 to acquire open space land; $66,000 for the Church on the Hill cemetery restoration; $50,000 to restore a historic piece of equipment in the Fire Department; $75,000 for a basketball court at the Community Center; $8,000 for an architectural study of the town beach, and $10,000 for the Roche Reading Park.

The committee also asks that $37,500 to be placed in each of the reserve accounts — historic, community housing and open space.

Christopher Ketchen is sworn in as town manager on Tuesday morning. The Alford native was selected to replace Gregory Federspiel, who left after 14 years for a post in Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Article 15 asks for $150,000 to be placed in a stabilization account; Article 16 to transfer $179,548 to from a surplus account to the Sewer Department; Article 17 to authorize borrowing a sum estimated at $400,000 to improve the Brunell Avenue pump station. Article 18 allows the use of revolving accounts.

Article 19 gives the town authority to grant an easement on Bramble Lane and Article 20 changes the zoning for signage to require all historic building markers to be approved by the Historical Commission if in the historic district.

Article 21 cleans up zoning language regarding single and two-family homes and Article 22, allows them to be exempt for other parking standards currently in place. Article 23 changes the zoning maps to include a Pittsfield Road parcel, which was previously voted to be in the C1A district but the maps were never changed to reflect it.

Article 24 is a resolution calling for the town to oppose the proposed gas pipeline through Western Massachusetts.

The town election will be held on May 5 and include the following positions: one moderator, two selectmen, one Board of Health seat, one assessor, two School Committee members, two Planning Board members and one Housing Authority member.

Tags: town elections,   town meeting 2014,   town meeting warrant,   

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