Lanesborough Questions Support of Legion Building

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Selectmen and the Finance Committee met last week to discuss the budget.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Voters will have to decide if they want to pay for a building the town doesn't own.

It's been determined that the American Legion post home is not owned by the town, but for years, the town has had a budget line to support the organization.

Now, with the Legion claiming to have documents proving it owns the property, Town Administrator Paul Sieloff has questioned that support.

"There has always been a question as to who owns it," Sieloff said.

To further complicate matters, the town's legal counsel has researched the deeds and says no one owns it.

The town spent $5,500 in last year's budget to support the post home; Sieloff has proposed shifting $3,000 into the veterans benefits line that hadn't been properly funded.

Shifting to the benefits line is being considered a "compromise" with the town still supporting veterans, just not a building.

"All this money is still going to veterans but we are redirecting how it is spent," Sieloff said.

The Board of Selectmen, however, don't expect that change to pass town meeting. George Himmel, commander of Post 446, has written a letter to the board stating that cutting the funding would "devastate" the organization's operations.

"They will get support from the floor," Chairman John Goerlach said of town meeting.

The town does have the legal authority to subsidize a building if voters so choose, officials said.

Finance Committee member Al Terranova said he feels "uncomfortable" paying for a building the town doesn't own when building the town does own needs work. Selectman Henry Sayers said the money is worth the expenditure, pointing out the town helps with the utility bills at the fire station even though it doesn't own that building.

"If we don't own the building, we don't have the obligation. So we should cut it," said Selectman Robert Ericson.

That change is one of 15 that Sieloff has identified in the upcoming budget for the Selectmen and Finance Committee to consider. The others include increasing the town accountant's salary, adding hours to the job of assistant secretary, getting more training for the town clerk, paying into Wired West, upping Town Hall expenses, creating a new line for water testing at Berkshire Spring and increasing funding for cemetery maintenance.

On the capital budget side, Sieloff is proposing spending $150,000 in projects (including providing the police station with hot water and the highway garage with upgraded electrical), setting $100,000 aside for a new fire engine and keeping another $100,000 aside for projects next year.

Tags: fiscal 2015,   municipal property,   town budget,   veterans,   

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