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Deerfield Notebook

Deerfield board asks departments to limit budget increases

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Board of Selectmen is requesting its department heads to target their budgets within a 2 to 2.5 percent increase as the budget season approaches.

If departments request more, the town employees would have to justify their requests when they submit the budget.

The selectmen have operated this way with an understanding among their department heads to try to limit their annual budget. But this year, the board will remind its employees of the practice at the request of Finance Committee Chairman Albert Olmstead.

“I would like to see a piece of paper or some sort of directive that comes from you,” Olmstead said.

The budget preparation for Fiscal Year 2015 is set to begin in January as usual. So far, Frontier Regional School and Union 38 Superintendent Martha Barrett has informed the town it could see a 6.2 percent budget increase at the Deerfield Elementary School, Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn said.

The projected Frontier Regional School budget is still being determined, Foxmyn said.

The school budget is traditionally the most controversial as the budget increases yearly to meet state mandates and consumes much of the budget.

“We need to make sure we’re going to try to live within Proposition 2 1/2 and make sure others do,” Selectman Mark Gilmore said.

Road salt issues cancel Deerfield meetings

SOUTH DEERFIELD — During last Tuesday’s snowfall, Deerfield Town Offices closed at 2 p.m. and evening meetings were canceled as a safety measure as snow quickly covered the roads.

Snow accumulation was an average 3 to 5 inches.

Highway Director Shawn Patterson explained that road salt is ineffective below the temperature of 20 degrees so when the highway crew began salting the roads it did not immediately work.

“It was one of the reasons why the office closed and we knew the weather was going to get worse,” Patterson said.

Once the temperatures climbed and plowing was under way, Patterson said, the crew put the salt down on the roads.

Under 20 degrees, road salt works best with calcium chloride, which the town doesn’t use because of its highly corrosive properties, Patterson said.

The highway crew worked well into the night, plowing and salting the roads before the morning traffic, Patterson said.

The town budgets $40,000 for salt, $18,000 for sand and $25,000 for private snow plow contractors.

Deerfield selectmen approve housing plan

SOUTH DEERFIELD – The Board of Selectmen and Planning Board have approved the town’s first housing production plan, giving the town more control over future housing development projects.

The town now has to submit the five-year plan to the state Department of Housing and Community Development for approval.

The plan is a result of several community workshops and public meetings.

The plan identifies the housing needs of a community and goals for the town.

The plan emphasizes a greater diversity of housing types in the village center and suggests turning the former Oxford Food pickle factory site into mixed commercial and office space, revamping the Hotel Warren, and creating 11 affordable housing dwellings in one year, among other recommendations.

It also encourages the town to revise its zoning bylaws to allow for accessory apartments in the commercial district, three-unit multi-family homes, and two-family homes by-right in the residential-agricultural district, among other changes.

The state requires cities and towns to have at least 10 percent of year-round housing stock qualify as “affordable.” The state defines that as within reach of a household earning less than 80 percent of the area median income. Deerfield has 37 percent of households making less than 80 percent of that income level.

Only 1½ percent of housing in Deerfield qualifies as affordable by state definitions.

If a town doesn’t meet the 10 percent threshold, developers can get zoning relief through a comprehensive permit if at least 20 percent of units qualify as affordable. A housing production plan would give the town more control over future housing projects.

The plan is available at www.deerfieldma.us or at the Town Hall at 8 Conway St.

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