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Morse Attends First Selectmen's Meeting as Town Administrator

By Gregory FournieriBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — New full-time Town Administrator Jennifer Morse began her new job this week.

Morse attended her first Board of Selectmen meeting in her new capacity Tuesday. Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi welcomed Morse, saying, "We're thrilled to have you on board with us."

Morse, most recently town administrator in Ashfield, was selected from three candidates for the post last month. Her hiring had depended on town meeting's approval of a salary for a full-time administrator.

The board discussed with Morse potential projects that the town could undertake with funds from the most recent COVID-19 relief bill. Morse said that most of the funds were restricted to water, broadband, and sewer infrastructure projects. She noted that the town has at least two water infrastructure projects coming up and that the funds could be used to help defray some of the costs of those projects.

This sort of cost savings could be useful to the town, which, among other purchases, plans to buy a new truck to be used by Highway Superintendent Robert Navin. Navin has repeated during multiple meetings that the cost of the truck he has his eye on is $235,000 and is likely to increase in the future.

Navin said he had wanted to repair one of his trucks using aluminum, but the part cost $3,800. According to the supplier with which he discussed the part, that reflects a price increase of 24 percent in just two weeks. Navin pleaded with community members, saying "anybody listening, please support us with the special town election," which will determine whether the loan for the truck can go through.

Borrowing for the truck and the $500,000 water main replacement on Route 8 passed at the annual town meeting by a two-thirds majority. A special election will be held in August to exclude the debt from Proposition 2 1/2.

The town's building inspectors quit ahead of an executive session about them that was to be held on Tuesday.
Francesconi said the board had received resignation letters on Monday from Building Inspector Gerald Garner and Building Commissioner/Zoning Enforcement Officer Mark Kruzel.
The board had scheduled two executive sessions on Tuesday "to discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health, rather than professional competence, of an individual, or discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual" for the posts of building inspector and zoning enforcement officer. 
Those sessions were not held and reasons were not given for either man's departure. The Selectmen will post job descriptions for those positions on the town's website as soon as possible. Both Garner and Kruzel are employed in similar positions for the town of Adams. 

In other news:

  • The Council on Aging is resuming its hot meal service. Hot meals will be served on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday and Friday will remain grab-and-go days.
  • A resident brought up an advertisement that he saw for a motorcycle race coming up and asked if the board had approved permits for that. The board members denied this, saying they will look into it to ensure that the race does not go forward.
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Update: State Approves Cheshire Single Tax Rate

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
Update: Cheshire's single tax rate of $12.76 per $1,000 valuation was approved by the state. This is a .62 cent decrease from fiscal year 2021.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen approved a single tax rate on Tuesday night for fiscal 2022. 
After a short presentation by the town assessors, the board approved a single, rather than split rate, but withheld the actual estimated tax rate that property owners can expect. 
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