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School costs eyed for Warwick meeting

On Monday, Northfield voters will decide whether to borrow $155,000 to replace the roof on the Warwick Community School. Recorder/Micky Bedell

On Monday, Northfield voters will decide whether to borrow $155,000 to replace the roof on the Warwick Community School. Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

WARWICK — Rising school costs and expensive roof repairs top the warrant for Monday’s annual town meeting.

Warwick voters will be asked not to fund the $752,594 requested by the Pioneer Valley Regional School District. Instead, they will be asked to pay $702,932, which is a 2.5 percent increase, compared to the 9.74 percent hike proposed by the district.

Town Coordinator David Young said the district’s requested budget would bring the town’s tax rate to $20.41 per $1,000 property value. With the Finance Committee’s recommendations, the town’s $1.6 million budget would result in a $19.77 tax rate, up from the current $18.22.

Northfield voters, who also meet Monday, will also be asked to fund less than the district has asked for.

For a lower budget to be approved, at least two of the district’s four towns must vote to spend less. In that case, the district would use the “highest common denominator” to reformulate a budget, using the percentages the state has set for each member town. The district can also propose a new budget for the towns to approve.

If three towns agree on a budget, it passes, whether or not the fourth town agrees.

The increase in the proposed budget is due to a combination of rising costs, stagnant revenue from the state and other sources, and depleted reserves.

Warwick voters will also be asked to disapprove of the district’s plan to borrow $400,000 for computer hardware and software upgrades. The district plans to borrow the money over five years, with repayment to start in fiscal year 2016. Unlike the school budget, it only takes a single town’s disapproval to defeat the borrowing.

The town seeks to borrow $155,000 to replace the roof on the Warwick Community School. Young said the article includes extra funds to allow for needed repairs that may be uncovered during the roofing project, such as chimney work and air sealing.

The roof was installed when the building was built 14 years ago. Young said the roof materials came with a 20-year warrantee, which the shingle manufacturer is refusing to honor. A tax cap debt exclusion referendum would be required if the article passes.

The Fire Department seeks several pieces of equipment. The department requests $5,000 for new turnout gear, $2,800 to replace or recertify breathing air tanks and related gear, $2,100 for new ladders, $2,000 for tires and chains for a fire truck, and $1,000 to buy new hoses and a “turbo-draft” which allows firefighters to strain and pump standing water. The warrant proposes that capital stabilization funds be used to pay for the Fire Department requests.

Voters will be asked to support a nonbinding resolution to ban “fracked gas pipelines,” as a result of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s plans to install a natural gas pipeline through Warwick and several other Massachusetts towns.

A citizen-driven article seeks $2,000 to videotape town and Selectboard meetings, to be accessible through Internet streaming or an online archive.

The annual town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday in Town Hall.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279 @RecorderRain

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