Ashfield TM to vote on $5.5M budget Saturday

Staff Writer
Published: 5/2/2019 5:28:05 PM
Modified: 5/2/2019 5:27:55 PM

ASHFIELD — The town is set to vote on a $5.5 million fiscal 2020 budget at its annual meeting Saturday, up 7.6 percent from the current year.

The annual meeting is scheduled Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m. in the upper part of the Town Hall, while the annual election is slated for the same day from 10:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the lower part of the hall. 

The Mohawk Trail Regional School District budget — $2,770,846 in fiscal 2020, up $131,417 from fiscal 2019 — is on Saturday’s warrant. The school budget has received mixed reactions from the Finance Committee, with three votes in support and two opposed. Finance Committee Chair Ted Murray said that two members voted to oppose the budget because it continues to increase every year, with this year representing an even higher jump.

The school budget is comprised of four sections: general expenses worth $2,406,162, capital expenses for $62,099 and vocation education expenses for $301,585 and School Committee stipends for $1,000. The article needs a simple majority to go ahead. 

Of the total $5.5 million budget, the town has been asked to appropriate $4.9 million. Only one budget item — $325,000 in capital project costs — didn’t receive unanimous approval by the Finance Committee. There were three votes in support and one in opposition. All other line items received full Finance Committee support. 

The remaining budget items are: $453,836 for government expenses; $248,304 for public safety costs; $689,036 for public works; $53,879 for health and human services; $91,342 for culture and recreational expenses; $204,671 for debt service; $55,867 for inter-government costs; $192,389 for benefits; $87,766 in ambulance services; $275,985 in sewer expenses; 204,922 in Broadband costs; $1,940 in retirement benefits. 

Notable articles outside the budget up for a vote include an item to bar a license application if a property owner owes town taxes or fees. This item has received full support from the Finance Committee. The article needs a simple majority to pass. 

Also up for a vote is an article submitted via a citizens petition that seeks to create a bylaw regulating door-to-door canvassing or solicitation. Individuals or organizations seeking to canvas or solicit money are required to first apply for a permit with the police chief and must not engage in the activity until the permit is approved. The bylaw includes an application fee of $20 for individuals and $50 for organizations. Penalties of $300 apply for any violations of the bylaw. The article needs a simple majority to be approved. 

Another item submitted via a citizens petition is to support a state bill that would create a special commission concerning the seal and motto of the commonwealth.

Other articles include: 

■To permit the annual stipends of elected positions, which range from $13 per hour for town constable to $1250 per year for Selectboard members.

■To permit the Selectboard to accept and spend any grants and or gifts that may become available. 

■To permit the Selectboard to dispose of any unused town-owned equipment and or property. 

■To transfer $3,000 to town reserves to fund unforeseen expenses. 

View the annual meeting warrant here: https://www.ashfield.org/DocumentCenter/View/4357/Annual-Town-Meeting-20190504-Signed-Warrant-PDF?bidId=

Reach Grace Bird at gbird@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 280. 


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