Temporary Lanesborough Police Station to be Operational by August

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Work on the temporary police station site at 545 South Main St. is nearing completion, and the Police Department expects the building to be fully operational by August. 

The Police Station Building Committee discussed the temporary site, which needs only minor technical and security work, on Thursday. The Select Board signed off on a two-year lease for the building in June


The temporary station, according to committee Chair Kristen Tool, has been furnished. Signage for the building should also be ready for August. 


"The next step really is the security system and the IT stuff ... This committee is really what allowed all of this to get done, because there never was a committee before," Tool said. "We can pat ourselves on the back for what we've accomplished so far. It's a huge piece, but it's also a smaller piece of the picture of a new building." 


Police Chief Robert Derksen said he is considering doing an open house for the station later in August, once it is fully operational. The committee plans to hold a private ceremony for the officers as well. 


"I couldn't thank the committee enough," Derksen said. "It's turned out better than I anticipated." 


The committee has not received any update from the Select Board on the status of the 8 Prospect St. deed, which town counsel has been reviewing for several weeks. Tool said she plans to ask the Select Board again if the committee can have permission to consider other sites at its next meeting. 


"I think the committee here should have the authority to be able to talk to the property owners and represent the town as such," said committee member and newly-elected Select Board Member Timothy Sorrell. 


The board is also exploring grant and other funding options for the building to lower costs. Tool said Town Administrator Joshua Lang was working with state Rep. John Barrett III to get state funding for the project. 


The committee also discussed potential funding available for a larger public safety complex, if town ambulance services were a part of the new building. Tool said she has briefly discussed this with EMS Director Jennifer Weber and would continue looking into it. 


"There will be additional funding available if we're able to go that route," she said. "I don't think it would be too difficult to take the one-story building that's already been designed and have Brian Humes add some ambulance bays on there, but I want to get a better idea from Jen about what her people need."

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Lanesborough Select Board OKs Single Tax Rate

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday voted to adopt a single tax rate that will mean the average homeowners' tax bill will go up by $107.
The tax rate will be $17 per $1,000 assessed value, down 67 cents from last year. 
This is the third year the rate has decreased but rising home values account for the increase in property taxes. On the other hand, the average commercial property tax bill will decrease by more than $400 due to devaluation.
Town Assessor Ross Vivori explained that over the last couple of years, people have been spending more on residential housing than commercial properties, which accounts for the discrepancy.
"They are overspending on residential," he said. "Whether that's all related to COVID, people moving from the cities to here, but that's driving that residential value up and you're just not seeing that on the commercial side so that's coming down and, of course, with the tax rate coming down, you're also seeing that being reflected in the commercial tax rate."
The average single-family home valued at $318,803 will have an annual tax bill of $5,420 in fiscal 2024. Last year, the average home was valued at $300,705 home and billed $5,313.
The average commercial property is valued at $525,450, a decrease from $528,697 in FY23, and will pay $8,933 in property taxes.
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