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Town Moderator Myra Wilk leads the annual town meeting at Hoosac Valley Elementary School on Monday.

Adams Town Meeting Opts For Higher Administrator Salary Range

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The 104 town meeting members who attended go through the articles fairly quickly, stopping only to debate the town administrator salary and the annual contribution to the Aggie Fair. 
ADAMS, Mass. — Town meeting passed a $14.7 million operations budget and approved a higher town administrator salary range of $85,000 to $95,000.
During Monday's annual town meeting, the 104 present members out 150 passed the bulk of the 25 articles in the first few minutes of the meeting that lasted just over an hour. However, they pumped the brakes on Article 6, the town administrator salary, which narrowly passed with 17 votes.
"The Selectmen feel that with the job market the way it is today getting people to move into Berkshire County ... they want a certain salary range and it is not $80,000," Selectman John Duval said. "I just feel that the Board of Selectmen should have the opportunity to negotiate with a range based on experience."
The $170,162 personal budget listed on the article is for the town administrator's office and includes the administrative assistant's salary, benefits as well as the town administrator's salary range of $85,000 to $95,000.
The Finance Committee had voted to not recommend the article 7-2 and Finance Committee member John Cowie approached the microphone and said if they have a range, the new administrator would go for the higher salary.
"It was the starting salary what we are objecting to ... when we have someone new coming in, why do they always have to start at the higher salary?" Cowie asked.  
He made a motion to knock this total amount down to $155,162, which would cap the salary range at $85,000.
Although this motion failed with a 35-65 vote, other town meeting members continued to rail against the higher salary.
Selectman Joseph Nowak said he thought $85,000 was an adequate salary, especially with such a low cost of living in Adams and Finance Committee member Paul Demastrie said he thought this was one of the rare opportunities where the town could save some money.
Town meeting member Bill Wilson said he would rather start with a lower salary and have the new administrator work for the higher amount.
"I would rather see it start at the $85,000 or $80,000 mark and give the person the incentive," he said. "We can say it is performance based ... and go from there."
The town recently underwent a town administrator search process but was unable to find three qualified candidates that met the Board of Selectmen's criteria.
Selectwoman Christine Hoyt said she believed part of the reason for this was the salary and capping it so low will not help the second time around.  
"We are the largest town and we pay the least amount for our town administrator. They have more responsibilities and they get less pay," she said. "We are in tough competition other communities in the county and one of our neighbors just hired a new administrator for $85,000 and they are a smaller community."
Before the vote, town meeting member Donald Sommer said he thought the town was quibbling over such a small amount of money.
"We are talking about $15,000 and that extra range could bring in the right man or woman," he said. "If they get here they could save us $100,000. That amount could bring in a higher caliber person and I don't think we should tie the board's hands."
Town meeting was voting on the Finance Committee's recommendation and a no vote was actually in favor of the higher amount. The vote was 42-49.
The only other article that met resistance was Article 8, which contained the yearly $5,000 the town gives to the Agricultural Fair.
Town meeting member Corey Bishop asked why the town handed over this money every year and felt there were more immediate needs on some of the other town fields. 
"People from all over the county and outside come and they look at our fields and they are highly embarrassing," he said. "Our fields are disastrous, and girls are going to get hurt. When are we going to take some action and help out the youth in our town."
Town Accountant Mary Beverly said the $5,000 request has come to town meeting in the past in the form of a citizen's petition and town meeting has historically approved it. She said the town has recently placed the amount in the budget, so it can ask for receipts and make sure the money is actually going toward Bowe Field.
Most spoke in favor of the article and felt the Agricultural Fair benefited the town.
Nowak, who is a co-founder of the fair, said there are far less agricultural fairs these days and that the Aggie Fair provides an important connection to the town's agricultural roots.
"I vehemently go against what is being said about the Aggie Fair and $5,000 is a drop in the bucket for what we are getting," he said. 
Before the article overwhelmingly passed, interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan did say the town still plans to go forward with a complete overhaul of Russell Field, and when the project is ready it will likely come before town meeting.

Tags: fiscal 2019,   town administrator,   town meeting 2018,   

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Dancecapade Members Return From Disney World

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

The girls got to go behind the scenes at the Florida theme park.
ADAMS, Mass. — Nearly a dozen local girls had the chance to perform in front of thousands at Disney World last year.
Dancecapade owner Jaclyn Grabicki brought 11 of her dancers to the Florida theme park in mid-December to perform alongside 45 other studios. 
"When I opened my studio that was something that I kind of prided myself on. I wanted to give the girls opportunities to get out of this area to see other venues," she said. "Watching them dance at Disney and watching them perform was the greatest thing for me to see because it is something that you don't think you are ever going to be able to do for them." 
Grabicki said the trip was not a competition but rather an opportunity for her girls to perform on a world stage at Disney Springs and a parade through the Magic Kingdom. 
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