CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Voters at town meeting on Wednesday will see a revised budget for fiscal 2021 that would reduce it overall by about $50,000 and raise the estimated tax rate by a much lower figure.
That's if the voters approve both the budget and the purchase of a new truck for no more than $250,000.
Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher had been against considering the truck and adding $50,000-plus in debt annually for the next five years.
However, after consultations with Northern Berkshire School Union Business Administrator Jennifer Macksey, he believes that the purchase is now within reach.
"So, we're able to purchase a truck," he said at the remote meeting held Tuesday so as not to conflict with town meeting. "And we're going to be able to reduce the tax rate — not a big decrease — but a 3 cent increase decrease instead of a 40 cent increase."
Town officials had estimated that the debt on the truck could cost the taxpayers about 40 cents per $1,000 valuation. That had prompted Boucher's opposition to the vehicle.
The new truck and its wing plow would replace a 2002 dump truck that's been frequently in the shop racking up costly repairs.
"I've been doing this a long time. Twenty years this year. But I've always fought for the taxpayer and their well-being, especially this year with COVID-19," he said. "I just didn't think it was a good time to go to the people at Clarksburg and ask for an increase, knowing we needed the truck, but thank God things always tend to work out."
The debt service line would be reduced by $53,125. Since the town would only pay interest in fiscal 2021, the net result would decrease the new debt service down to $290,046.
When the truck payments begin in 2022, the borrowing for the reconstruction of Horrigan Road at $60,000 a year will have fallen off. The town will also be paying off the library, if town meeting approves, meaning that smaller debt will also be gone.
There will be an increase in the Finance line of $2,232, raising the total to $118,116 for auditor costs.
"The total requested budget put forward at town meeting will be $4,565,710," Boucher said. "That's inclusive of the town operating budget and the school."
Town meeting is set for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot at the Senior Center. Voters are asked to bring their own chairs and umbrellas, in case.
This outside town meeting is being held because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is limiting the number of people who can safely congregate indoors.
One thing missing that town officials will need is a moderator. No one stood for moderator in the last two elections and the write-in winner in last week's election has declined the post. Boucher said he was the second write-in but is not able by law to be both moderator and selectman.
Ray Moulthrop has stepped in at the last special town meeting but it was unclear if he would be available on Wednesday.
Select Board member Danielle Luchi asked if it could wait until town meeting. Boucher agreed and the matter was tabled to the town meeting when someone will be appointed to moderate the meeting.
The town is also seeking to fill three other empty posts: a one-year term on the Hoosac Water Quality District and two alternates seats on the Conservation Commission of one and two years.
Correction: iBerkshires reported the anticipated change in the tax rate incorrectly as an increase rather than a decrease.
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Clarksburg Sets Special Town Meeting for PILOT Authorization
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The town hopes to come to an agreement with two solar installations for payment in lieu of taxes.
The Select Board will need authorization to enter into any PILOT and a special town meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 6 p.m. at the Senior Center for that vote.
"The town has to say, yes, you have permission to enter into an agreement," Town Assessor Ross Vivori told the Select Board on Wednesday. "Once that's in place, it should be good for future stuff that comes up as well."
There are two large commercial arrays off River Road and a third off Gravel Bank Road. Only one, Clean Energy Collective on River Road, has already agreed to a PILOT.
The meeting, held on the lawn of the Senior Center because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, swiftly approved a town budget of $4,565,710 and the purchase of a new Department of Public Works truck for $250,000.
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Town meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center at 712 West Cross Road. The meeting will be set up in the parking lot and there will be provisions for keep people separate because of the pandemic; voters are encouraged to bring their own chairs and umbrellas.
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The Select Board on Wednesday voted to approve a decision by the Board of Health to open the library, Senior Center and Town Hall next month to limited access and in accord with the state's reopening plan.
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