The Baker Hill Road District will pay the town for upkeep of the Mall Road.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Berkshire Mall is going to pay the town to maintain the newly built Mall Road.
On Monday, the Board of Selectmen approved four new contracts with the Baker Hill Road District, which owns the road, officially known as the Route 7/8 Connector Road, and collects fees from its only taxpayer — the Berkshire Mall.
With the road just recently being rebuilt, the district reached a contract to pay $102,000 per year for the town's Highway Department to maintain it.
"We want to make sure this road stays up. It is a very important economic component for the town," said Town Administrator Paul Sieloff.
Sieloff said the three-year contract shouldn't put an extra burden on the Highway Department and the town is purchasing a new truck, with expanded capacity to create more efficiency in the maintenance. He added that much of the work is subcontracted out.
Another new contract between the town and the district will help the town's pursuit to purchase a new fire truck. That contract calls for the Baker Hill Road District to pay $50,000 annually to help purchase new fire trucks and ambulances.
"It is a big help for us. If you look at our capital plan moving forward you see how many vehicles there are and how expensive they are. Its an expensive business," Sieloff said.
The town is already proposing to set aside $100,000 of this year's free cash toward the purchase of a new first truck. Next year, the town expects to put aside at least that same total and then bond the remainder of the estimated $600,000 truck.
With this agreement, the mall will be contributing yet another $100,000 — $50,000 this year and $50,000 next — to lower the total the town has to bond and thus lowering the interest paid.
Those two agreements are new but build on the road district's first contract for police service. In a contract continually renewed since 1988, the mall, through the district, pays the cost of two police officers and every other year pays half the cost of a new cruiser.
This year the road district is paying about $230,000 for the two officers. That total includes all benefits and insurance and in return the mall received full-time, year-round coverage. The town is also purchasing a new cruiser this year at a cost of $40,000 and the contract calls for the road district to cover half of that.
The Board of Selectmen approved a fourth contract on Monday that is an extension of the road maintenance. This is a short-term contract expiring at the start of the new fiscal year, when the other goes into place, for immediate road work. That contract will allow the town to start right away on the maintenance.
That contract is doesn't carry a specific dollar amount but instead bases the specific construction project — just some drainage and street sweeping — based on the county bid with an attached administrative fee.
In other business, the Selectmen met with the Finance Committee to pick through proposed town meeting warrants. The overall budget is proposed to cause a 2.5 percent increase to the tax rate.
At this point, the Finance Committee is unwilling to put its approval on a handful of articles because it hasn't had a chance to fully review them — such as the Lanesborough Elementary School budget.