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More than 100 Lanesborough voters attend Tuesday's town meeting to decide spending and other articles for fiscal 2025.

Lanesborough Passes 32 of 34 Articles at Town Meeting

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Voters approved 32 of the 34 articles on the warrant at the annual town meeting on Tuesday night at Lanesborough Elementary School.
 
More than 100 registered voters attended the meeting, which lasted a little more than two hours, to vote on the proposed fiscal 2025 spending plan, board and committee seat procedures, three articles related to short-term rentals, and various spending items. Voters rejected expanding a tax exemption to military parents and referred an accessory dwelling bylaw to the Planning Board. 
 
Voters approved a budget of $11,851,407. Of that is a net increase of $237,129 in education costs for the Mount Greylock Regional School District and McCann Technical School, less than the $271,478 increase in FY24. 
 
During the meeting, voters made two amendments, one for the Police Department budget and another for the recreation program budget. 
 
Voters added an additional $1,000 to the police budget so that the department can develop a police report in next year's annual town report. 
 
The report would provide "meaningful data that accurately captures what police work in Lanesborough entails. Such data would help me feel confident that we're funding our police at a level that meets the needs of a small town in a rural county," one voter said. 
 
An additional $3,800 was added to the recreation program budget to put the septic back online at Bill Laston Memorial Field. Park visitors currently have to use portable toilets. 
 
One voter said the recreation committee had been level-funded for many years, but now their needs are increasing because of the pavilion. 
 
Voter Mark Siegars also endorsed the increase and said that if voters want to fund anything else for the pavilion, state Cultural Council grants are available. 
 
This grant would have been applied for by now, but the town was informed it was going to be fixed by someone in the community, he said. 
 
"I'm just up here to tell you if there's anything else you want you need to let the town administrator know so that when we make our grant application, we'll try to get money to cover all the costs," Siegars said. 
 
Voters approved the appropriation and transfer of $15,000 from free cash to cover the cost of the planning and equipment of the proposed senior park the underutilized Bridge Street Park. 
 
The funds would cover the cost of an engineering and design study and potentially some supplies and equipment.
 
"The initial investment of the $15,000 is going to be leveraged to access an equal amount from the New England Rural Health Association funds through the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. These combined funds will get our project shovel ready by covering the costs of full engineering and design," Linda Pruyne said. 
 
"The town will soon begin working with BRPC on an Open Space and Recreation Plan. Having our engineering done and having an OSRP for Lanesborough will, in turn, make our project eligible for a wide range of other state, federal, or private foundation grant programs."
 
Last year, the board voted to form a Lanesborough Senior Park Initiative after being approached by Pruyne. 
 
Utilizing the existing infrastructure, the planners feel they may be able to install a small gazebo for shade, a pickle ball court, and a Whiffle ball field, among other aspects for staying active at an older age.
 
Pruyne also emphasized that it is senior-friendly, but it is still a community park, so can be utilized by people of all ages.  
 
Voters approved the deletion of a provision in its bylaws surrounding the removal of members for non-attendance. 
 
The provision allowed the town to give an elected official notice to vacate their seat.
 
Town Counsel Jeff Blake of KP Law said this provision is not compliant with Massachusetts Elections Law because elected officials are appointed by the people and have to be removed by the people. 
 
Any citizen can start a recall. 
 
Voters approved articles 27 to 29, which are related to local excise taxes on temporary lodgings, including hotels and AirBnBs, hotels, among others,
 
This is in an effort to get revenue from these establishments. This revenue could potentially help pay for local initiatives, such as a public safety building.
 
Article 27 imposes a local excise tax of up to 6 percent of the total rent for each occupancy of bed and breakfasts, hotel lodging houses, short-term rentals, or motels. 
 
Article 28 imposes a 3 percent impact fee on "professionally managed" short-term rentals.
 
Article 29 imposes a 3 percent impact fee on short-term rentals in two or three-family dwellings.
 
This applies to rentals that are less than 30 days, so will not impact long-term rentals. 
 
Voters approved article 34, which expands number of Select Board members from three to five. This will now go to the Legislature. This article was added to the warrant by a citizen petition led by Kristen Tool. 
 
Those against the article commented how there is low participation in local government and if this change is made it could result in empty seats. 
 
Siegars pointed out that the town had to pass an ordinance allowing non-Lanesborough residents to serve on committees because of low local government participation. 
 
Voter Barbara Davis-Hassan said she agreed with Siegars adding that meeting with only three board members are shorter and more concise. 
 
Tool addressed these concerns saying that an issue in town is that people are not stepping up because there's no space for them to step up into. 
 
"We have almost 3,000 residents in our town and I think that if we vote and pass this that new people will step up. It will be providing more diversity, more space for new people, for younger people to step up," Tool said. 
 
Voter Lyndon Moors pointed out the town has been having a lot of races for the seats on the Select Board. 
 
"There's never more than two open seats in any given year. We have two candidates for Select Board this year. We had three last year. I think we had two the year before," Moors said. 
 
"And we probably have more years that have contested seats than the years that we have uncontested seats. And they are all different people too; very few repeats."
 
Select Board Chair Michael P. Murphy said he supports the concept and that residents can also get involved by attending town meeting, pointing out that the Select Board meetings are lightly attended. 
 
"I think we should have as many people participating in this process as possible, but you don't have to be elected or appointed to do it," Murphy said. 
 
Voter Allie Pace said she has been a resident of Lanesborough for about two years and would love to get more involved.
 
"I really didn't know about any of the boards, any of the positions, anything at all until my neighbor was kind enough to tell me about it and I started getting involved the last few months," Pace said. 
 
"And I think a lot of young people in Lanesborough are in the same situation — that we just don't know. We want to be involved but it kind of feels like a club where we can't."
 
Voters shot down Article 30, which would have expanded the full tax exemption to parents of military personnel who went missing in action or died as a proximate result of injuries sustained or contracted during active duty service. 
 
During the meeting, it was clarified that spouses of these personnel already have full tax exemption; this would have expanded it to include the parents.
 
"I propose this warrant because I think it's the very least we can do to the parents who have lost the child due to active duty," Select Board member Timothy Sorrell said. 
 
"Other towns have done it, I don't know why we haven’t, but I think we're sending a good message to support the families of our servicemen, especially those who have died in the line of duty."
 
Voter Deborah Maynard said although she sympathizes with parents who have lost a child during active duty, a vote in favor of this will have a negative effect on the tax rate. 
 
She noted that in fiscal 2022, 26 veterans and their surviving spouses were granted a partial tax exemption with a state reimbursement of 68 percent. The town was responsible for $4,550. Maynard said the state does not reimburse the addition of parents. She also pointed out that parents are not dependent on their child the way the spouses are. 
 
Voter Jen Lyon said it was not a legacy so would not continue on to the military personnel’s kids. The town is "giving money away on a lot of unnecessary things," she said, and approval would show families of these military personnel that the town recognizes their loss. 
 
Maynard recommended that to recognize their loss the town dedicate something, whether its the bridge, pavilion, or park, to the fallen soldiers. 
 
Pruyne also cautioned the approval of this article as it may encourage other people to move to Lanesborough for this tax exemption as other areas don’t have it. 
 
Voters referred Article 33, on an amendment of the accessory dwelling unit bylaw, to the Planning Board to investigate it further due to some uncertainty surrounding it at the state level. 
 
The remaining articles passed with little to no discussion.   

Tags: annual town meeting,   fiscal 2025,   lanesborough_budget,   

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PIttsfield 16s Fall in Babe Ruth Regional Final

iBerkshires.com Sports
AUGUSTA, Maine -- The Norwalk, Conn., Babe Ruth 16-year-old All-Stars Tuesday beat Pittsfield, 2-0, in the championship game of the New England Regional.
 
It marked the second shutout loss to the Connecticut State Champions in three days for Pittsfield. But it was a very different game this time around.
 
On Sunday, Norwalk beat Pittsfield, 10-0, in six innings to wrap up pool play.
 
That forced Pittsfield to win two straight games to get a rematch in the finals, and it did so, blanking Lyndon, Vt., on Monday and edging Eastern Mass Champion Lynn on Tuesday morning.
 
But in the title game, Norwalk pitcher Jaxon Ermo held Pittsfield to four hits and allowed two walks while striking out six in a complete-game shutout win.
 
For Pittsfield, Connor Paronto and Sam Glockner split time on the mound, striking out three.
 
But Norwalk generated 10 hits and scored a run in the second and a run in the sixth to give Ermo the offensive support he needed.
 
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