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Lanesborough town meeting shot down an attempt to raise wages for public employees.

Lanesborough Town Meeting OKs 19 Warrants, Tables Recall Petition

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass — Nearly 80 voters convened at Lanesborough Elementary School and approved 18 of 19 warrant articles at Saturday's annual town meeting. 

Article 2 approved the town's $10.34 million budget after significant discussion and an amendment to remove proposed salary increases for town employees. Finance Committee Chair Jodi-Lee Szczepaniak-Locke said such salary increases are unnecessary right now. 
 
"We believe it's important, more important than ever, to be conservative and standing with so many unknowns in the future and the increasing needs of our town ... We realize the people holding these positions perform their jobs exceptionally, but it's about the position and responsibilities, not the person," she said. 
 
Finance Committee member Steven Wentworth said he personally did not feel the increases, which totaled about $88,000, were justified. He said a recently conducted salary survey used to decide the increases was flawed and biased. 
 
"For me, someone who spent 35 years in accounting and finance, for this Finance Committee, and in my opinion any finance committee in the commonwealth that spent one hour to understand its construction, would require a violation of ethics to support it," he said. 
 
Town Administrator Joshua Lang said salary increases could help the town retain staff. He said not keeping salaries competitive could lead to problems retaining town employees in the future. 
 
"We continuously see staff that are leaving for other towns. And I think we're going to continue to have a problem if we don't address it now," he said. 
 
An amendment made by Council on Aging Treasurer Linda Pruyne to increase the town clerk's salary by $6,466 was approved. 
 
"In my opinion, the town clerk's been underpaid for many years and just never said anything about it.," she said. "She never requested a raise." 
 
Another amendment to the budget will change the Board of Assessors' budget to bring an assessor back to town, after town outsourced the assessor's work last year. The additional cost of this change is $6,400
 
Article 19, a citizen's petition that proposed the town enact legislation to conduct recall elections was tabled by a 25-24 vote with one abstention. Several residents expressed questions and concerns about the specifics of the article. 
 
Barbara Davis-Hassan, who created the petition, said she had been working on getting recall legislation in the town books for about a year. After town meeting approval, according to Hassan, the state Legislature would also have to review and approve the recall provision. 
 
"There was some pushback and a few issues because it was mentioned that it seems very confusing. Yes, it is very confusing," she said. "We studied it quite a bit. I've talked to town clerks, with [Ruth Knysh]. We got it to a point where it makes sense."
 
Articles 4 and 5, which were approved, will appropriate $315,000 for ambulance enterprise operations, which were previously a part of the Fire Department budget. The town will generate $106,000 of this appropriation via user fees. 
 
Also approved:
 
• Article 3 allows the town to make expenditures to the Transportation Bond Bill to repair roads in town. 
 
Article 6 allows the ambulance enterprise to expend $15,000 of retained earnings to cover unforeseen costs from fiscal 2022. 
 
• Article 7 appropriates $66,860.00 for sewer enterprise operations from departmental receipts and Article 13 uses $43,000 in free cash to pay for a sewer compliance study conducted in fiscal 2022, was also approved. 
 
• Article 8 allows an appropriation of $16,700 to the Local Access Television Enterprise Fund, $15,000 of which will come from user fees. 
 
• Article 9 appropriates $247,177 to the Baker Hill Road District for police salaries and an expenses account for fiscal 2023. This funding would come from money the town will receive from the district.
 
• Article 10 was approved and will allow the transfer of $47,823.45 from free cash to pay Department of Public Works Director William Decelles for unused sick leave and vacation upon retirement, as agreed in his contract.  
 
• Article 11 create an Other Post-Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund managed by the town treasurer. Article 12, which was also approved, will transfer $50,000 from free cash into this fund. 
 
• Article 14 transfers $30,000 from the district fund to fund the purchase of a new police vehicle. 
 
• Article 15 was approved and will change the name of the Board of Selectmen to the Select Board. 
 
• Article 16 reduces the age of senior citizen eligibility from 70 years to 65 years and increase the current amount of the tax exemption from $500 to $1,000. This change will go into effect at the start of fiscal 2023. 
 
• Article 17 calls for the town to draft and submit a letter to the state Legislature asking to support local financial efforts for ambulance, fire and other emergency management services. 
 
• Article 18 allows the town to sell or use for general municipal purposes a 19-acre property at North Main Street. After an amendment, the Finance Committee and the Select Board will have to agree on any action with the property. 

Tags: town meeting 2022,   

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General Dynamics Seeks Small-Business Connections

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Congressman Neal says there are more than 133,000 Massachusetts residents employed by small businesses in the state. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — General Dynamics Mission Systems gathered around 75 small businesses and professional organizations at the Berkshire Innovation Center on Monday for a day of making connections.

The event titled "Innovating for The Future" sought to expand the company's supply chain in the state and further GD's relationship with the community by strengthening the local industrial sector.  

"I think one of our main objectives today is to make connections. Make connections between General Dynamics and all of the folks we have here representing the various companies, we have several of the General Dynamics companies represented," Vice President of Supply Chain Management Ann Rusher said.

"So getting our message out as to what our needs are and what would be important for small businesses to be able to support us and making the connections than with the small business, what are their capabilities and where do they want to go, everyone's on their own respective growth journeys, and then how do we make the connection so that we can follow up and actually find ways to work together and to help each other and collaborate on the hard problems that we are facing right now."

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