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Prudential Committee members Ed Briggs and Ed McGowan participate in a meeting of the three-member panel. If voters Tuesday say OK, the committee could expand to five members.

Williamstown Fire District Special Meeting to Look at Expanding Committee

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The special district meeting is scheduled for Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at Williamstown Elementary School to consider a couple of changes to the district's charter.
 
Chief among them is an expansion of the committee from its current three-member composition to five members.
 
The move is part of a response to criticism the committee has heard over the years about not fully representing or hearing all points of view in the community. The Prudential Committee itself seeks to address that concern by increasing the body by 67 percent.
 
If the move is approved by the district's voters, the proposal moves to Boston, where the district will ask state Rep. John Barrett III to introduce the change as a home rule petition to the Legislature.
 
"The other pieces are that voters will be asked to allow for the treasurer and clerk to become appointed positions because of the technical expertise required," firefighter Corydon Thurston said.
 
Thurston, who has served as the district's clerk/treasurer in the past, said that if the expansion of the committee goes through, the two "new" seats initially will be elected for a one- and two-year term.
 
After those terms expire, the newly created seats will be three-year terms like the rest of the committee. In addition, the charter change proposed makes the district's moderator position a three-year term instead of its current one-year term.
 
That means that in subsequent years after the proposed expansion, the district each spring would have two positions on the ballot: either two Prudential Committee seats (in two years out of three) or a Prudential Committee seat and the moderator (in the third year out of the three-year cycle).
 
Thurston said the hope is that the charter amendments — if approved on Tuesday — can be OK'd in Boston in time for the May 2019 election cycle. But the district has no control over that timetable.
 
"It's possible it can be done in time," Thurston said. "The amendment calls for it to be effective immediately upon passage.
 
Either way, the Prudential Committee will not wait until spring 2020 to expand its numbers.
 
"If we miss the election cycle for the new people, it would be at the convenience of the committee to call a special district election to elect two new people," he said.
 
The Williamstown Fire District is a separate taxing authority apart from town government which sets its own tax rate and approves its budget at an annual district meeting in May. As a matter of convenience, taxpayers in the district receive one tax bill that includes assessments for both the town and district.

Tags: fire district,   prudential committee,   

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Mount Greylock Subcommittee Backing Off Field Advisory Group Plan

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The finance subcommittee of the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee last week discussed abandoning plans to recommend the full committee appoint an advisory panel to answer questions the elected officials had about a proposal to build an artificial turf field at the middle-high school.
 
As recently as mid-July, that is the course the subcommittee advocated, but it felt the School Committee should hold off on forming the advisory group until the fall.
 
On Thursday, Carolyn Greene said that between the November election that promises at least three new members of the seven-person School Committee and a looming deadline the district faces to bring its fields into compliance with Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act, now is not the time to create a new committee on the issue.
 
"I reached out to potential members of the advisory committee, but then the advisory committee composition did not come before either the Finance Subcommittee or the School Committee for any kind of vote," Greene said. "We had a number of other things come up right around June/July 2020. We had a change in district leadership, we had a change in our business administrator."
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