CHESHIRE, Mass. — After a final Finance Committee and Selectmen review of the budget, the $6.2 million spending plan is ready for town meeting.
The Finance Committee met with Selectwoman Carol Francesconi on Tuesday to go over the fiscal 2020 budget that is up 2.94 percent.
"I think the budget looks good," Finance Committee member John Trembley said. "You did a good job."
The Finance Committee had no real requests for deductions and, if anything, advocated for increases and more future planning.
Trembley asked about the Council on Aging budget of $46,803 that has increased $23,900 to accommodate a new position -- a program coordinator.
"I am not measuring it, I am just saying we serve a certain amount of people at the Council on Aging," he said. "How do we get more?"
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV said he thought not enough seniors use the program, which was the impetus to add the position.
"That's the plan, and we hope that this position provides more access and will drive more people here," he said. "A lot of people just go to Adams to their COA ... in my opinion we aren't serving enough."
St. John said if town meeting approves the budget, the position will be posted in hopes of having someone hired for July 1.
The conversation then moved to infrastructure and Finance Committee Chairman Justin Kruszyna said he thought the town should really start looking at some substantial road repairs. He noted road maintenance has been level funded.
"I know we are pushing the levy limit but I would like to see more money in the road repair fund," he said. "The longer we wait the more it will cost."
Francesconi said many of the road projects come with astronomical costs and that state Chapter 90 funds will not be enough to address projects such as Route 116.
St. John added that the town plans to apply again for Complete Streets funding to overhaul Depot Street and that this season's plan is to repair Maple Street.
The Finance Committee then asked if the town is keeping an eye on the condition of public buildings.
St. John said the town does have a complete assessment of town buildings in the works for future planning.
"We know what we have we just have to figure out the metrics and how to rate the buildings," he said. "We need to do that and fit it into a larger capital improvement plan."
Kruszyna also asked about the Transfer Station and noted a $17,000 increase because of recycling changes. He asked if this cost would be reflected in a bag rate increase.
St. John said the increase will be dispersed throughout town but thought the Board of Health did have a bag fee increase planned.
With the town planning to borrow to purchase a used grader, Trembley asked about current debt and St. John said in the next years the town has a lot of items coming off the books so the grader should be a wash.
"In the next few years, we have some debt that will be coming off and we can start to plan going forward," he said.
He said a highway truck borrowing expires in fiscal 2020 as well as one in 2022. A land acquisition is scheduled to expire in 2024, a fire truck in 2030, and the Fire Department rescue vehicle in 2023.
Tremblay said he was happy with the flat 2 percent increase across the budget and the decrease in free cash from $170,000 to $140,000 to lower the tax rate.
St. John said he plans to continue to decrease the amount of free cash used to lower the tax rate in years to come.
"I want to reduce our dependence on free cash and use it for capital expenditures or emergencies rather than just offsetting the tax rate," he said. "I want to build us up to a position where we won't need it."
St. John said he would send the Finance Committee updated budgets but his preliminary calculations still show an increase in the tax rate of about 50 cents.
The town will hold budget and town meeting informational sessions May 23 and 30 at 7. The location of these meetings will be posted online.
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Cheshire Faces Tough Decision With Trailer Park Roads
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
Town officials have been concerned about the condition of the roads at Pine Valley for some time.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen meeting was called to order Tuesday with five members for the first time in town history.
After a quick and warm welcome to both new board members, it was down to business.
The most pressing issue of the evening proved to be the rapidly deteriorating roads within Pine Valley Trailer Park. The trailer park is owned and operated as a private business and the town is not responsible for maintaining the roads but board members feel it's reached a point where emergency vehicles and residents well being are in jeopardy. The issue at hand is whether or not to spend public money on private roads.
"It seems like they just don't care," said Selectman Mark Biagini, regarding the management company's level of action to repair the private roads. Biagini, along with the rest of the board, all cited safety as being their No. 1 concern and the only reason they would consider using town funds to repair them.
The Board of Selectmen meeting was called to order Tuesday with five members for the first time in town history.
After a quick and warm welcome to both new board members, it was down to business. click for more
After brief discussion at its regular meeting Monday, the School Committee unanimously voted to hire the principal of Pittsfield's Crosby Elementary School as the district's new top administrator.
click for more
The full committee on Thursday interviewed superintendent candidates Aaron Dean, principal of Pittsfield's Crosby Elementary School, and Beth Choquette, principal of Northampton's Bridge Street School. Both have previously worked for Adams-Cheshire. click for more
The five candidates for the Board of Selectmen made their final pitches to dozens of residents at the Community Center Friday night.
The forum, hosted by Gene Gebarowski, gave the candidates five minutes each to address the crowd before breaking into informal question and answer sessions. The... click for more