Step It Up Rally

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Williamstown - A rally for action on climate change will be held on Sat., April 14 from noon to 2 p.m., on the front steps of First Congregational Church in Williamstown. This event is part of a Step It Up national day of action, organized by climate change scholar and activist Bill McKibben. Local events will be held in iconic places such as levees in New Orleans, melting glaciers on Mt. Rainier, underwater on Key West's endangered coral reefs, and in town on the steps of a New England church. Over 1,100 events like these will send the message “Step it up Congress, cut carbon 80% by 2050". At least six of these events are scheduled to be held in Berkshire County. According to event orgainizers, climate change is a moral issue as the world is faced with human-initiated changes that will harm millions, especially the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Rev. Carrie Bail, Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser, and Chaplain Rick Spalding will speak during the Williamstown event. Additional speakers include state Sen. Ben Downing D-Pittsfield, Jiminy Peak CEO Brian Fairbank, town Selectwoman Jane Allen, Mount Greylock Regional High School senior Rachel Payne, Tufts University Professor Bill Moomaw, and Chuck MacNeil from the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority. The church façade will be used to host a graph illustration of the dramatic spike in carbon emissions in the last hundred years— with the final point extending 60 feet to the church’s steeple. The event will feature music by student performers from Williams College and Mount Greylock Regional High School, and opportunities for people to take action to reduce climate change. Actions include the purchase of compact fluorescent light bulbs, signing up for green energy, an opportunity to pledge to reduce carbon emissions, and signing up to participate with climate change study groups sponsored by the Northwest Earth Institute. The meetings will begin during the final week of this month and will cover a four-week span. The Water Street Books retail store will host a book table to sell books about climate change and other relevent topics. Food will be sold by a Spring Street business, Ephorium. People are encouraged to bike, carpool, or take the bus to the event. The BRTA has agreed to provide round-trip free bus service will be available from North Adams to and from the rally. You may contact First Congregational Church in North Adams at 663-9940 to arrange for passes for yourself or your organization. Rally parking will be permitted at the lower Stetson lot at Williams College or at the Williamstown Elementary School lot. Those who park in those locations are encouraged to walk the remaining distnce to the rally. In case of rain, the event will take place inside the church.
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Williamstown Fin Comm Begins Review of FY25 Spending Plan

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town is looking at a 2.8 percent increase in its property tax levy for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, and members of the Finance Committee last week talked about finding a way to whittle that number down.
 
Town Manager Robert Menicocci presented the Fin Comm with a preliminary budget of $24.8 million for FY25, up 4 percent from the $23.9 million spending plan for the current fiscal year.
 
Factoring out other sources of income for the town, that leaves a local property tax burden of $20.9 million, up from $20.3 million in the current fiscal year, a rise of about $600,000 or 2.8 percent.
 
"I'd like to throw down a goal here that when I go through the arithmetic, I'd like to see us try to cut about $200,000 out of the budget," Fin Comm Chair Melissa Cragg said at the panel's first working session of the FY25 budget season. "That can come from any number of places. … I think we can deliver this without touching services."
 
There are still a couple of unknowns embedded in the budget that Menicocci presented to the Finance Committee at its Feb. 21 meeting. The largest is the assessment from the Mount Greylock Regional School District.
 
The PreK-12 school district budget represents, by far, the largest single line item in the town budget: $13.3 million, or 56 percent of the current year's $23.9 million budget, for example. Menicocci's draft spending plan includes, as a placeholder, a 4 percent increase in the Mount Greylock assessment, up to $13.8 million for FY25.
 
The district administration earlier in the month told the Mount Greylock School Committee that as of Feb. 8, the projected assessment would be up by about 4 percent for Williamstown (and 5 percent for Lanesborough, the other member town in the district) but that officials hoped to bring the assessments down as the budget is fine-tuned.
 
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