Adams Town Meeting representatives approve $19 million budget signing off on spending items for Greylock Glen
source: townnews.com

Adams Town Meeting representatives approve $19 million budget signing off on spending items for Greylock Glen

Adams Town Meeting representatives have given their nod to a $19 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, marking a 4.7 percent increase from the current year’s spending plan. The budget includes several key items, notably those related to the development and maintenance of Greylock Glen.

One of the significant approvals was the establishment of a revolving fund for Greylock Glen. This fund, which will be financed through rental fees from vendors using the property, is intended for the upkeep and maintenance of the Glen. The town administrator will oversee this fund. Some representatives raised concerns about the lack of a specified dollar amount and the concentration of control in the hands of the town administrator. Questions were also raised about the absence of a Greylock Glen commission.

Town Administrator Jay Green addressed these concerns, explaining that the town does not anticipate spending from the revolving fund in the upcoming year. He also mentioned that forming a Greylock Glen commission would be premature until the Glen becomes self-sustaining. Once it reaches that point, resident tax dollars will no longer fund the effort, and a commission will be established, removing the need for Town Meeting voters to approve Glen spending.

Additionally, the budget includes $80,000 to pay Michael Wynn, the executive director of the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center, for the next year. Wynn is the former police chief of Pittsfield.

The approved budget will result in an increase in the property tax rate for Adams residents. The current rate of $17.54 per $1,000 of valuation for residential properties will rise to approximately $18.59 in fiscal 2025, a 5.9 percent increase.

Town Meeting representatives also approved the town’s operating budget of over $9.8 million and a Hoosac Valley Regional School District budget of around $6.3 million, which is a decrease from the previous year. The town’s contribution to the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District (McCann Tech) increased by 8.77 percent to $1,063,774.

In addition to the budget, representatives approved an update to the dog leashing bylaw, allowing for exceptions on public property. This change will enable a new off-leash dog park, part of a new public park at 1 Cook St., to operate.

Other approvals included:
– A police budget of $2,205,470, slightly up from $2,201,045.
– A Department of Public Works budget of $1,324,172, down from $1,608,449.
– $1,201,256 for the wastewater treatment plant, funded through a tax levy.
– Debt service of $389,481, down from $644,678, covering borrowing for Town Hall, the police station, the library, and a storm damage bond.
– Borrowing $336,859 for wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
– $207,000 for various improvements, including a DPW post mower attachment, a DPW truck repair, library building improvements, public buildings/facilities, and technology upgrades for the Select Board.

The meeting also saw the adoption of the “Mullin Rule,” which allows board, committee, or commission members who miss a public hearing to participate in future deliberations or voting, provided they have reviewed transcripts or records of the missed meeting.

The town meeting, which lasted nearly three hours, saw the passage of all articles on the warrant. This included a $17.6 million budget and the transfer of $150,000 from stabilization to lower the tax rate.

One of the most discussed items was Article 4, which raised stipends for elected officials. The chair of the Board of Selectmen will now receive $2,000 annually, up from $300, and board members will receive $1,200, also up from $300. The chair of the Board of Health will receive $1,386, and members $924. The Cemetery Commission rates were increased to $500 for the chairman and members.

The meeting also approved expenses related to the operations of the new Outdoor Center at Greylock Glen, including the half-year salary for a director expected to be hired by the end of the year.

Additionally, the meeting approved the rewording of a bylaw regarding the presence of officers at the police station, allowing for more flexibility in staffing and addressing the overtime burden caused by the loss of reserve officers.

The town’s $6.5 million assessment for the Hoosac Valley Regional School District was also approved, despite some criticism of the district’s budget.

Overall, the meeting saw the approval of several key items, including significant funding for Greylock Glen, which is expected to enhance the town’s development and maintenance efforts.