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The Select Board welcomes new reserve officers Jeffrey Mullens and Aaron Goodell.

Clarksburg Property Owners Will Feel Impact of Debt Exclusion

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Homeowners will see their property tax rise an average of $350 in fiscal 2020.
The Select Board on Wednesday approved a single tax rate of $17.89 per $1,000 valuation, up nearly $2 over last year's rate of $15.99.
The 11 percent jump in the tax rate is largely because of the $1 million borrowing approved at town meeting in May. The borrowing to address a number of capital projects is excluded from Proposition 2 1/2 but the tax impact will only last five years.
Assessor Ross Vivori has calculated that the average tax bill will rise $354.53 based on a comparison of last year's and this year's tax rate and house values. The value of the average single-family home increased slightly from $166,606.54 to $168,635.94, a difference of about $2,000. 
Overall, the town's residential value has risen almost $1.7 million, to $103,711,100 and the number of parcels from 612 to 615. Commercial values have grown less, about $20,000, while industrial has actually decreased $382,000 to $1,276,300.
In contrast, personal property has nearly doubled from $2,642,631 to $4,888,560, or close to $2.3 million more. That makes up much of the increase in the town's assessed value, which is up $3,574,310 to $123,947,338.
Despite the new growth, the town is skating just below it's levy limit by about $27,000. That's because the Clarksburg needs to raise $2.2 million to cover its budget and borrowing. 
The $1 million is being split evenly between the town and the school to address some significant infrastructure issues. While the school anticipates tapping into the money to cover the balance of a new security entrance, officials haven't yet planned out a priority list or project costs. 
On the town side, Highway Foreman Kyle Hurlbut was ready with a list of project under his purview, including road repairs and an addition to the town garage, that officials signed off on in August. 
One bid has already been awarded to Warner Brothers LLC of Sunderland for Henderson Road, School Street and Gleason Street.
Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher said the bid came in at $252,000, well below the estimate of $321,000.
In other business, the board welcomed new intermittent reserve police officers Aaron Goodell and Jeffrey Mullens. Chief Michael Williams said Mullens is a machinist who has completed the reserve academy and that Goodell has worked in emergency services and is a dispatcher in North Adams. He also worked as an officer for a short time in Plainfield and has been interested in working for Clarksburg. 
The board also appointed a new Council on Aging board. The board had been ready to dissolve because of a lack of participation but it has taken several months for the veteran board members to become comfortable with handing over the reins to the newer contingent. The Select Board is trying to create a board that better reflects a cross section of the senior community. 
The new members are Mary Ann Maroni and Lauren Norcross, both appointed to three-year terms; Irene Shea to a two-year term; and Eunice Boulger to a one-year term. The board also reappointed the current board members all to one-year terms to reflect the required term limits (that have been largely ignored) and to provide a transitional period. They are Lily Kuzia, Shirley Therrien, Barbara King, Debra Lefave and Iris DiLorenzo.

Tags: fiscal 2020,   tax classification,   

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Clarksburg School Preparing for Reopening Scenarios

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

The new security doors can be seen in the school lobby. The doors are one of several updates at the school, including a public address system and an accessible bathroom. 
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Principal Tara Barnes is working on a "nice puzzle challenge" in figuring how students will be situated within the elementary school come fall to comply with public health guidelines for the pandemic.
The state guidelines, so far, are requiring social distancing as well as masking for students in Grades 2 and up. Schools will also require a separated space for children who may be showing symptoms of COVID-19.
"I feel from most of our classrooms, about 15 students is the max of what we're able to get in there," she told the School Committee on Thursday. Further guidance from the state in regard to desks and dividers could mean a few more, but, she said, "I don't want at any point to compromise the safety of students or staff when I'm looking at these spaces."
Barnes said she's reviewing the use of "overflow" spaces such as the gym and rethinking uses of non-classroom areas and how that might affect special education teaching and splitting up classes to keep the numbers down. 
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