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Several members of the Adams Board of Selectmen are still meeting in person but far enough apart to abide by social distancing; the other members and officials have been calling in.

Adams Preparing for 'Very Conservative' Budget for Fiscal 2021

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff
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Town Administrator Jay Green says if town meeting cannot vote on a budget before June 30 there is the option of going month by month until it can. 
ADAMS, Mass. — Town Administrator Jay Green expects to present a "very conservative" town budget on schedule. 
 
Green told the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday night that the budget process is moving forward, although conditions remain far from optimal. He said he and Town Accountant Mary Beverly will be ready to present to the board and the Finance Committee on schedule. He also has scheduled several meetings over the next two weeks to hear from both the Hoosac Valley and McCann school districts along with all other town department heads. 
 
Given the nature of the virtual meetings it is best to check the town's website for dates and instructions to attend these electronically.
 
Green said the town, much like everyone else, is doing the best it can given the overriding fiscal uncertainty.
 
"The COVID-19 health crisis and requirements to socially distance do not make for conducive local government, particularly under a town government system. We're doing our best to try to meet the tenets of open meeting and to try to steer through," he said.
 
"In terms of the budget itself, we have been very conservative in how we've budgeted. You'll hear me say this on multiple occasions over the next 60 days, it is a moving target. We don't know what the state budget is going to look like. That flows down to every municipality. We have a conservative budget and we'll put it forward."
 
The state is in the process of rebuilding a budget for fiscal 2021 in light of the drastic reductions in revenues projected through the end of 2020 because of the novel coronavirus. 
 
The fiscal 2021 budget has to be approved at town meeting by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, which might prove difficult given the social distancing guidelines — an auditorium full of people would violate every current regulation. If town meeting were postponed past that date, the town would have to revert back to its 2020 budget and work on a month-to-month basis.
 
Green said they are preparing for both scenarios.
 
"We have to essentially prepare two plans. If not that then this, if not this then that. That requires us to be very nimble," he said. "We will be ready for either scenario but let's keep our fingers crossed that these restrictions will ease up when we get to town meeting."
 
Chairwoman Christine Hoyt said the board has already had discussions with Town Moderator Myra Wilk and others involved in the process as to what town meeting might look like. They are even considering the possibility of splitting up town meeting to different locations or holding it virtually. There are 150 elected town meeting members, although some may not be able to attend and some seats are vacant. The meeting is also open to members of the public.
 
The annual town meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 22, almost a month later than normal. The board opened up the warrant for the town meeting in order to give citizens time to put a petition on the ballot if they so choose. Petitions must be turned in to the town clerk's office no later than close of business on May 20 and contain the required 10 signatures.
 
During his standard COVID-19 update, Green said the town had no new cases in the last two weeks but cautioned the public on reading too much into that.
 
"We've gone for a pretty decent amount of time now with no new cases. Although it may feel as though we're winning the battle ... the battle is not yet over. We have to remain vigilant and continue to abide by the rules as best as possible."
 
In a bit of good news, Green reported the town received a $50,000 Community Compact grant from the state to review a capital improvement plan for the wastewater treatment plant. Engineering firm Tighe & Bond will be performing the study for the town.
 
Town Clerk Haley Meczywor also reminded residents that with current gathering restrictions, the best bet for the upcoming town election on June 1 might be absentee or early voting. She said ballots are available now and can be obtained by calling Town Hall at 413-743-8300 and leaving a message at Ext. 176. 
 

Tags: adams_budget,   fiscal 2021,   town meeting 2020,   

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New Adams Police Chief, Officers Union Contract Announced Wednesday Night

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent

Officer Josh Baker reads from a portion of the new three-year union contract that was ratified by the Selectmen on Wednesday night.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday officially introduced new interim Police Chief Troy Bacon in all too common COVID-19 style. 
 
The appointment of a municipality's top law enforcement officer is usually heavily attended by town officials and accompanied by dozens of handshakes. Because of restrictions in place from the worldwide pandemic, this one was carried out with nary an elbow bump. 
 
Bacon will assume the post on Tuesday, July 14, after current Chief Richard Tarsa's retirement becomes official at 11:59 p.m. Monday night. Bacon, 44, recently retired from the Frankfort, Ind., police department after 20 years. He had one of his daughters with him this week for a whirlwind tour of the area before she headed back on a plane to the Midwest.
 
"One thing she said was, 'There's a lot of trees here dad," he answered smiling when asked by Selectman Joseph Nowak about his daughter's first impression of the area. "I told her yes, that's right, that's one of the reasons I applied here. 
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