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Erving  to vote on dog fees

ERVING — Special town meeting voters will have the opportunity to weigh a question of dog plumbing and animal gender bias in December, with repercussions for how fee decisions are made in town.

Town Administrator Thomas Sharp said next month’s special town meeting was prompted by a new state law requiring, among other things, that municipalities charge the same registration fee for dogs regardless of the animal’s gender.

The new law also requires that the fee for a spayed or neutered dog be less than that for an animal that remains “intact,” in the language of the bill.

Erving fees already reflect this pro-sterilization policy for female dogs, but must now be changed to apply equally to male dogs, according to Sharp.

The article facing voters does not establish the new fee but would give the Board of Selectmen the power to do so.

The article up for approval would transfer the authority to set fees from town meeting to the board or official concerned, allowing “municipal boards or officers empowered to issue the license, permit or certificate to also fix reasonable fees from time to time,” in the language of the warrant.

Sharp said voters could simply set the new fee rates, but this approach will save time and money in future. “When and if this happens again the town will be able to respond much quicker, rather than having to schedule a special town meeting to raise the dog fee by a dollar over what it was last year,” Sharp said.

The change is provided for under state law, contingent on town meeting acceptance.

The current dog registration fees are $6 for un-spayed females, $3 for all other dogs. Sharp said the recommendation will be to change the fees to $10 for spayed and neutered dogs and $15 for those that have avoided the knife.

Other matters

Also on the agenda are an article allowing the town to send out property tax bills and water bills in the same envelope, to save postage, and a transfer of $4,800 between tax overlay accounts.

Sharp said the transfer was necessitated by a Verizon court victory in a case challenging an aspect of a 2005 state law establishing pole taxes, resulting in a change to the assessment.

The remaining two articles would rescind an article from the June special town meeting and replace it with a re-worded version.

The article amends the recorded salaries of the treasurer, tax collector and town clerk to include additional money earned but not included in the salary figure.

The new version would not change the figures but specifies the sources, a bookkeeping measure for the sake of clarity, according to Sharp.

The meeting is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall, 12 East Main St.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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