Three of five articles approved at Colrain Special Town Meeting

  • Of five articles on the warrant, voters at Colrain Special Town Meeting approved three articles and voted to take no action on two others. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

  • Of five articles on the warrant, voters at Colrain Special Town Meeting approved three articles and voted to take no action on two others. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/25/2020 2:21:45 PM
Modified: 9/25/2020 2:21:35 PM

COLRAIN — Of the five articles on the warrant for Special Town Meeting on Thursday, three articles passed — including one to reduce the town operating budget to instead allocate money to the school budget — while two articles received support for voters to take no action.

The meeting took place at 6 p.m. outside the Town Office. About a dozen members of the town were in attendance.

Articles 1 and 2, which voters opted to take no action on, sought approval for the discontinuation of a portion of Cal Coombs Road, followed by approval to accept an easement granted to the town by the homeowner, Johnnie Chase, for town vehicles to use as a turn-around.

Selectboard Chair Mark Thibodeau explained that before the town can vote to discontinue the road, it would need the turnaround, which currently doesn’t exist. The same explanation was given by Selectboard member Joe Kurland as to why no action should be taken for Article 2.

Voters unanimously approved a vote of no action. Town Coordinator Kevin Fox explained the subject of the articles will likely be taken to a future Town Meeting.

Article 3 sought support from voters to reduce the previously approved town operating budget by $7,300 to instead allocate that money to the Mohawk Trail Regional School District. The article passed with a few ‘no’ votes.

Prior to the vote, some voters asked for clarification as to why the district needed more money than what was approved at Annual Town Meeting in June.

School Committee member Kate Barrows explained that when the budget was created, there was an understanding it would need to be revised given the financial uncertainty at the federal, state and local levels.

“We tried to land as close as we could to the amount that was approved for the fiscal year 20 budget,” she said.

Colleen Worden asked if there is was any savings in the district with the students not in the school buildings.

In addition to lower revenues from the state, Barrows said, the district lost revenue in cafeteria fees, athletic fees and transportation fees. She said the district is getting some support from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, as well as grants that helped pay for personal protective equipment.

“(Superintendent Sheryl Stanton) and the DLT (Distance Learning Team) did their due diligence … to keep costs down,” added School Committee member Toby Bassett.

Ultimately, the school budget ended up being roughly $7,300 more than what was requested in June.

“We were lucky we had an area in town that was able to offset those costs,” Bassett said. The money is being moved from the Highway Department Salaries line item, as the town did not replace an employee who retired.

The final two articles on the warrant both received unanimous support.

Article 4 sought to transfer a previous appropriation of $14,000 that was originally allocated to pay for a fiscal year 2019 financial statement audit, to instead pay for the costs of a fiscal year 2020 audit. Lastly, Article 5 sought approval to transfer $5,000 from the audit stabilization account to pay for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) actuarial and consulting services.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne



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