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Cheshire Eliminates Insurance for Elected Officials

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Selectmen adopted a new policy that would eliminate health insurance coverage for employees or elected officials who serve on a part-time basis.
After months of deliberation, the board unanimously voted Tuesday to eliminate insurance for those who work less than 20 hours a week for the town in order to save money.
"This letter has to go out soon," Selectwoman Carol Francesconi said. "We want to get this out as soon as we can."
The Selectmen's main issue was with elected or appointed officials who draw insurance from the town. Board or committee members have the opportunity to use town insurance than can cost the town more than the stipends paid out. The Selectmen felt the new policy would put them more in line with other communities and create some relief in the budget.
In other business, Francesconi said the Cheshire Elementary School Reuse Committee has narrowed its recommendation to the town to three options.
"We have three specific uses that we will recommend ... and they involve some renovation," she said. "But I don't want to say too much because we still have to figure out possible building code issues."
She added that there is an organization interested in the building but was hesitant to give out any names.
Francesconi asked Town Administrator Mark Webber if it was possible to release a request for proposals and solicit more interest.
Webber said it may be too soon to craft an RFP without a specific use in mind 
"I have to have something and be able to have parameters," he said. "It needs to be somewhat specific because they would need to know their limitations. You have to nail down your outline on that."
The Selectmen also heard from Barry Emery, local historian and member of the town's 225th Anniversary Committee, about future celebrations to kick off on March 10.
He said the Cheshire Community Action Team has applied for a state grant to help with celebration funding, but the committee also plans to do some fundraising.
"We are hoping to raise additional funds through selling merchandise, but we are going to try to do everything minimally as possible in terms of cost," he said. 
He added that McCann Technical School students also agreed to create a website for the celebration to be called
"We thought we would keep it separate from the town's website although I am sure there will be some overlap," he said. 
Emery said the committee would like to hold an event every month and "piggyback" off some of the other cornerstone town events.
He said they will most likely come before the town and ask permission to use Cheshire Elementary School.
"We haven't identified exactly what is going to happen yet but the school cafeteria could a be a good place for some displays or performances," he said. "Maybe a big birthday cake."

Tags: anniversary,   cheshire school,   health insurance,   school reuse,   

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Cheshire to Stay With Single Tax Rate For Coming Year

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen voted on Tuesday to keep a single tax rate for the town, opting not to differentiate between commercial and residential properties. This decision  is consistent with historic town practices.
Barbara Astorino, chairman of the Board of Assessors, addressed the board at the tax classification hearing. Although no specific tax rate was made available to the public, the board decided to go with a single tax rate as it has always done.
"Cheshire has historically always maintained a [single] tax rate," Astorino said. 
She was asked by the board how urgent this matter was and what consequences might arise should they take more time to study the numbers.
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