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Rowe to set budget, mull bylaw change

ROWE — On Monday night — in what will probably be one of the last big town meetings in the Fire Station — voters will set the town’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. If all goes as planned, construction on the new Rowe Elementary School will be finished by September, and this town of roughly 400 residents will have a large auditorium in a school building once again.

A special town meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

Besides seeking $23,705 to cover additional winter road costs, three special town meeting articles deal with who is eligible to serve on the Finance Committee.

The first one suggests changing a town bylaw that prohibits elected town officials and part-time town employees who earn more than $2,500 from serving on the partially vacant Finance Committee; this article would allow part-time employees to serve, but would prohibit elected officials and full-time town employees from serving. The article came in by citizen’s petition, to widen the field of candidates for the seldom-full finance board.

The second article, recommended by selectmen, proposes reverting to the original wording of this same bylaw, which was changed in 2010. The original wording says: “No person holding any other town office and no employee of the town shall be eligible to serve on (the finance) committee.”

A third article seeks to reduce the size of the Finance Committee from five to three members, since fewer people seem willing or able to serve.

The annual town meeting follows afterward.

The town is seeking a general government budget of $366,101, which is a $37,669 decrease from last May’s request. The request for Highway Department and public works is $585,442 — about the same as this year’s. The Police Department budget is $48,345; the Fire Department’s is $51,516. The public health and sanitation costs are $130,867.

The elementary school budget request is $1,158,458, which is a 1 percent increase over this year’s spending plan, when Rowe School was leasing space in the Hawlemont school building. The secondary education budget, of $418,450, represents almost a 4 percent decrease from the current year’s. It reflects a $23,000 decrease for Mohawk tuition, with 24 Rowe students expected to go to Mohawk in the fall. The tuition for five Franklin County Technical School students is $85,000. This budget proposal was put together by the School Committee and the Mohawk-Hawlemont-Rowe superintendent’s office in February — before the Rowe School committee voted to change superintendent services. So the budget request might reflect some later adjustments, as Rowe prepares to join the North Berkshire School Union.

Spending requests for the town library and for Pelham Lake Park are almost the same as this year’s: $66,009 for the town library and $105,000 for Pelham Lake Park wages, operation and maintenance.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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