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Assessor Donna MacDonald informs the board of its tax classification options.

Property Taxes Set to Rise in Adams

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday night set a tax rate for fiscal 2020 that is up 2 percent over fiscal 2019. 
Homeowners will pay $21.88, an increase of 49 cents per $1,000 of valuation while commercial properties will rise by 59 cents to $25.99 per $1,000. 
The average single-family home was valued at $147,266 in fiscal 2019 and the bill $3,150.
The board decided to continue the split tax rate and voted for a 115 percent shift factor for the second year in a row. The residential rate is still down from an all-time high of $22.21 per $1,000 in 2018.
Assessor Donna MacDonald addressed growth, or lack thereof, on the residential side of the ledger as one reason for the tax hike.
"One new house," was her reply when questioned by longtime board member John Duval, who replied, "the year before that we had five new houses."
MacDonald cited a drop in new growth compared to recent three-year averages.
"As things go up and your budget goes up and we don't have any new growth to absorb some of the expense, the tax rate will go up," she said. 
MacDonald did share some good news with the board.
"We have seen activity on Howland Avenue. The housing market this summer has been incredible," she said. "But that will be reflected in next year's numbers."
Duval noted slow-to-develop downtown projects as an impediment to growth.
"We have two large blocks of apartments on Park Street that have been under construction, one place went bankrupt and sold," he said. "Those are keys, in my opinion, to Park Street. To get those filled with [people] with income, with good jobs, who want to live downtown. You need feet on the ground to get entrepreneurs to open up businesses here. If there is nobody [living] there, they're not going to open up. Those two buildings are keys to our success."
Chairwoman Christine Hoyt noted a current initiative to smooth the way for new development.
"We hope to be announcing some plans in the next month or so about, I'm calling it a 'road map to ribbon cutting,'" she said. "Putting together some tools to recruit businesses but also using those same tools to show that Adams is welcoming community to all."
Town Administrator Jay Green took a positive approach when he addressed the town's big picture.
"We are fiscally sound, we are in very good stable condition," he said. "Our costs are well under control and as a community we should be proud of that."
After the tax rate was set, Green continued with his administrators report by announcing the town is still accepting applications for a Department of Public Works director and a code enforcement officer. He then touched on the long running Greylock Glen project.
"We continue to have conversations with our elected officials ... and they are continuing to work on having meetings with the relevant cabinet secretaries," he said. "We're going to keep the project a topic of conversation on Beacon Hill. We have just received this week on Monday a completed design package for the outdoor center, so we now have construction documents."
Green said he hopes to have bid documents for the heating and air conditioning system at the closed Memorial School ready by October. He also said that more than one quarter of the recently received $800,000 Community Development Block Grant will be available for housing rehabilitation to qualified residents. Lastly, he added that engineering money in the amount of about $500,000 from the state Department of Transportation was approved to continue working on extending the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail past Lime Street.
In nontax-related news, the town's annual Ramblefest celebration will take place on Oct. 13 from noon to 5 at the Visitors Center. Several local businesses were granted one-day wine and malt licenses for the event, including Bright Ideas Brewing and DeMarsico Winery. 
 The Domino's Pizza shop on Summer Street will remain open as district manager Valerie Melton was in attendance to receive the transfer of the common victualer license from the board on behalf of new owners Jozon Enterprises. The Adams location will be the franchisee's 14th shop and fourth in Berkshire County.
The next meeting of the Board of Selectmen will be a workshop held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Town Hall.

Tags: fiscal 2020,   property taxes,   tax classification,   

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Adams' Berkshire Mill Damaged by Falling Tree

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent

A large tree at the corner of Hoosac and Columbia broke windows in the upper floor of the mill apartments. 
ADAMS, Mass. — A large tree blown down on Thursday afternoon has damaged the historic Berkshire Mill at Hoosac and Columbia streets.
Several upper windows on the west side of the building facing Hoosac Street were shattered. A car was also damaged by the tree that fell into Hoosac Street.
Police responded to close off the area and a Department of Public Works crew was cleaning up the debris. No word of any injuries. 
The street is currently closed at the Visitors Center and there is a back up of traffic on Columbia Street. Authorities expect the road to reopen by 6:30 p.m.
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