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The Finance Committee meets Monday in Clarksburg.

Clarksburg Sees Fiscal 2019 Revenues Increase

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The town looks to end its fiscal 2019 budget with about $35,000 more in revenues. 
 
Town Accountant Donna Estes told the Finance Committee on Monday that the two largest drivers were motor vehicle excise tax and delinquent property tax fees. 
 
Excise taxes brought in about $15,000 more and fees and back interest on delinquent taxes more than $20,000. 
 
"So you better start paying your taxes on time," Estes joked. 
 
Treasurer/Tax Collector Ericka Oleson said she has been working with property owners who have fallen behind.
 
"There were a lot of older years when I came in, so I've been going through the whole list and working with people," she said. 
 
School choice spending was also down with the town budgeting $180,000 but the bill coming in at $163,000. Expenditures for part-time police also came in about $20,00-$25,000 less than budget. 
 
"Some of the places where we went over was tax title fees ... to clean up properties," Estes said. "And postage was over $3,200 from budget of $20,000.  
 
"This is the first year that I had broken out by postage, specifically, so again, part of that could be because I wasn't exactly sure how it was going to play out."
 
Postage was level-funded for fiscal 2020 but that will be an item to keep an eye on going into fiscal 2021.
 
"That would be important to look at when we start looking at the next year’s budget," said committee member Mark Denault. "The whole point is not to underbudget."
 
Also going over was maintenance of town buildings — largely because of the sewer issue at Town Hall early in the spring — and the street lights. 
 
"I think that we I think that we anticipated credits because of the solar project," Estes said of the streetlight overage. But overall, the town ended in the black.  
 
"We have overages, but we have things we didn't buy so all in all, we’re under," said Chairman James Stakenas. 
 
Estes said the focus now is reconciling the accounts and submitting to the state to set the tax rate. 
 
"2019 end of the year, where we're at, certainly sounds good," Denault said. "It sounds like we're starting to head down the right path of budgeting properly and keeping things in check. So I’m happy."
 
The committee also briefly reviewed the results of the recent audit. Stakenas asked that the audit be kept on the agenda for the next meeting to give members more time to look through it and come up with any questions. 
 
Estes said the audit was "was very very thorough" and that procedures were an issue. 
 
"They did not give us a time line but the assumption was that it would be done before the next audit," she said. "We’ve followed the recommendations and we're working on the policies and procedures."
 
Many of the issues were "quick fixes," she said but procedures would take a little longer.   
 
"This has come before me several times on the committee and every year, it appears to be the same recommendation," said Denault, who wanted to make sure they were being put in place. 
 
"If something falls through the cracks and there is a problem financially, they can point to these and say it's really your fault," said Stakenas. "And we really don't want that to happen."
 
In other business: 
 
Road Foreman Kyle Hurlbut updated the committee on the roads being selected for repair under the debt exclusion authorized at town meeting and the proposal to return a Complete Street grant for Middle Road because the bid came in too high. The committee endorsed his choices and recommended them to the Select Board (which approved them on Wednesday). He also explained the MassWorks grant being sought to do the north end of Middle Road.
 
Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher told the committee officials are working on a Americans with Disabilities Act grant for planning purposes to make town buildings more accessible, with the school a priority. He reported that the school boiler project, which is using the town’s Green Communities Act grant, should be completed by  mid-September and that McCann Technical School students will be siding the police garage. 
 
Stakenas, who also is heading the town administrator search committee, said that committee will be interviewing several candidates on Aug. 28 and will be sending one or more recommendations to the Select Board. 
 
The committee determined to meet on a quarterly basis with its next meeting in October feeling that would be more beneficial in noticing any red flags in the finances. 
 

Tags: Finance Committee,   fiscal 2019,   

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Clarksburg Preserves Memory of Fallen Vietnam Soldier

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Patricia Wol, left, Sandy Cook pose at the sign installed last year. 
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Peter A. Cook's comrades in arms have ensured that his name will not be forgotten within the town of Clarksburg. 
 
The town field was dedicated in honor of the fallen soldier on Saturday in a ceremony the included the presentation of a Massachusetts Medal of Liberty to his sister, Sandy Cook.  
 
It was the final step in preserving the memory of Cook as the Veterans of Foreign Wars' post that holds his name is slowly disappearing.
 
"This has been a goal of ours for probably three years," said Edward Denault, current commander of Post 9144. "It's something that needed to be done and we wanted to do it. And it's the right time to do it. As post numbers are getting older, time is ticking away. So it was very important for us to get this project done. We wanted to get it done right." 
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