Adams-Cheshire School Budget Process Causing Confusion

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Cheshire officials are wondering how Adams' decision not to accept the regional school district numbers will affect the budget process.

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Adams officials' rejection of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District's assessment has pushed the budgeting process into uncharted waters.

Town Administrator Mark Webber told the Cheshire Selectmen onTuesday night that he contacted the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education because of confusion over the school budget.

The School Committee approved a budget a $19 million budget but the Adams Selectmen have placed an assessment that's $300,000 less on the town meeting warrant. Adams' share of the school budget can only be changed on the town meeting floor.

A DESE representative told Webber that because Adams is not using the School Committee certified budget at town meeting, it is considered a no vote.

"Unless you carry the certified number from the district ... it's a no vote," Webber said. "Carrying the wrong number is a no vote."

Webber said DESE did not feel Adams did anything illegal by accepting a budget without seeing the district's presentation or not using the School Committee's certified numbers, however, it is not a traditional practice.

"She said it's a little unique," Webber said. "It is not illegal, but certainly runs contrary to the flavor of the law or the intent to put that out before you get certified numbers from the district."

Webber said he brought this to the attention of the School Committee, which is seeking legal counsel to see what actually happens next.

Webber said Cheshire will vote like it normally does on the school budget.

"Frankly I don't know what it means ... and we will go toward it like we usually do but I think it is already over," Webber said.

He also contacted the state Highway Department to see if it was possible to get a temporary bridge or expedited funding for the Sand Mill Road Bridge that was shut down because of its poor condition.

He expected to have an answer next week. If the MassHighway cannot help, he will contact state legislators and advocate for expedited funding.

In other business:

Webber said septic work will be closed out at Pine Valley Mobile Home Park by April 30.

Park resident Ron Lancia said the septic system keeps backing up and may have been installed wrong.

He was more concerned over the roads that have not been repaved yet.

"The roads were blacktopped they were beautiful and then they just dug everything up," Lancia said. "They are going to leave it like that and put dirt down."

He said the dirt roads have turned into mud with all of the snow melting.

"Driveways are all mud and dirt and they aren't fixing anything now," he said. "If they don't blacktop the roads there is going to be real bad dust, dirt, and mud everywhere ... on my mobile home there is dirt and dust all over ... it is just terrible."

The Selectmen said the Rent Control Board has little power over what it can tell owner Morgan Management to do, however, a call of action from the tenants for a rent decrease could provide the them and the board with some power.

Webber said the state will no longer force Cheshire to form a veterans district and hire an agent that could cost it near $10,000 for its share, which is based on population.

"In the great good sense of the Legislature, they decided we can stay as we are after all that ... and they said a part-time agent for the shared localities is all fine," he said. "So somebody had a momentary lapse into lucidity, and they aren't going to continue with this one."

Last October, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission was informed that the state was working on legislation that would force Central Berkshire, and similar areas in the commonwealth, to hire a full-time veterans agent.

The BRPC had advocated that Cheshire seek full reimbursement instead of 75 percent for veteran agent funding.

Webber said he was notified of Kinder Morgan pipeline emergency training being offered April 23 from 9 to 3 and 6 to 9 at Berkshire Hills Country Club.

Selectwoman Carol Francesconi felt it was premature to offer such a meeting.

"They are going to have emergency planning when the pipeline is not even in or approved," Francesconi said. "I'm not going to worry about that ... it's kind of dumb."

Tags: ACRSD,   gas pipeline,   school budget,   veterans agent,   

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Cheshire Looks For Options For Road, Building Repairs

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff

The Cheshire Selectmen discuss the long-term infrastructure challenges that the town is facing. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Entering into a budget season that seems to start earlier and earlier lately, the Board of Selectmen is taking a hard look at the town's infrastructure. The majority of Tuesday night's meeting was spent discussing potential options for maintaining and improving the town's buildings and roads.
Selectwoman Michelle Francesconi raised the issue of the fire station, which recently had its roof repaired but is now experiencing some heating issues.
"The Fire Department heating system ... is actually the boiler from the State Police barracks when it was on Dalton Avenue. So it's not new obviously. I don't even remember the State Police barracks on Dalton Avenue," she said.
The board estimated the boiler to be at least 30-35 years old. Chairman Robert Ciskowski puts it at closer to 40.
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