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Deerfield may consider tax override for Frontier capital projects

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  • Several Deerfield selectmen and Finance Committee members raised the question of the value of School Choice for the Frontier Regional School district Tuesday night at a joint budget meeting with the Deerfield Elementary School Committee.<br/>(Recorder file/Paul Franz)

    Several Deerfield selectmen and Finance Committee members raised the question of the value of School Choice for the Frontier Regional School district Tuesday night at a joint budget meeting with the Deerfield Elementary School Committee.
    (Recorder file/Paul Franz)

  • Several Deerfield selectmen and Finance Committee members raised the question of the value of School Choice for the Frontier Regional School district Tuesday night at a joint budget meeting with the Deerfield Elementary School Committee.<br/>(Recorder file/Paul Franz)

DEERFIELD — The Deerfield Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee may consider a one-year tax cap override to pay for $60,295 in Frontier Regional School capital projects for next year.

But there would be one condition: that Frontier leaders and municipal officials from its feeder towns meet in the summer to discuss revisions to the 1954 agreement that created Frontier and established how the budget costs are shared.

“We have to do a long-term plan,” said Selectman Elizabeth Clarke.

The proposed Proposition 21∕2 override is not set in stone yet. It is a change from when the town Capital Planning Committee recommended funding $14,000 of what was originally an $82,921 share of the capital plan.

But after meeting with the Frontier leaders — Superintendent Regina Nash, Principal Martha Barrett and Facilities Manager Bob Lesko — the town debated asking residents to consider paying for the entire capital share through an override.

The Frontier leaders have been making the rounds to the Frontier towns – Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately and Conway – to appeal for support of the school’s first five-year capital plan in 15 years. The towns have only three more years of payments on the 1997 Frontier expansion-renovation. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the remaining $354,796 of the borrowing will be paid off.

“In 15 years, we haven’t asked for any capital requests. When we did the renovation 15 years ago, people wanted us to maintain the building,” Nash said.

The towns are not required to fund the projects, however. The requests are separate from the $9.8 million operating budget. If Deerfield is the only one to pay its share, the money would be returned to the town and the projects remain incomplete.

Frontier has reduced its original capital requests by $50,000, eliminating a proposal for HVAC improvements and a second article for $119,000 for repairs to the tennis courts and track.

Instead, Frontier will look for other funding sources for the two projects. For the tennis courts, the district will apply for Community Preservation Act money, which offers money raised through taxes and state matching funds for recreation, land preservation and community housing.

For the HVAC improvements, the school will seek Green Communities money from the towns.

The three towns, apart from Deerfield, have to determine first whether they can chip in energy grant funds to a building outside their borders.

In all, the Frontier School Committee is asking for $67,500 for safety and security updates, $5,750 for electrical improvements, $30,000 for the replacement of a maintenance pickup and $30,000 for a student transport van.

The total proposed capital cost for the coming school year is $133,250 for the four towns, down from the original $183,250 request.

The town shares break downs to: $17,242 for Conway, $60,295 for Deerfield, $35,058 for Sunderland and $20,653 for Whately.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.

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