Delayed 6 months, Gill’s Annual TM to review $3.6M budget

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2020 3:29:59 PM

GILL — Many local towns had to delay their Annual Town Meetings this year, but Gill’s was delayed longer than any other — six months. It will finally be held this Saturday, at 1:30 p.m., outside the Riverside building at 54 French King Highway.

The long delay was due to logistical complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, especially regarding the design of the annual budget, Town Administrator Ray Purington has said.

Without having been able to set an annual budget this spring as usual, Gill has instead been working on a month-to-month budget, which has typically been about $300,000 per month. November will likely be the last month with a monthly budget, if the budget passes at the meeting Saturday.

The budget proposal is being finalized in Selectboard meetings this week, but as of Tuesday the total town budget for Fiscal 2021 was tentatively set at $3,620,717. That number includes $1,795,622 for the Gill-Montague Regional School District.

In its expenses, Gill has scaled back in some regards — especially in its capital projects — but will likely continue as normal in most ways. Purington is recommending that the town continue with regular yearly contributions to its savings accounts, even though he expects the town to dip into one of those accounts to help with school expenses this year.

"It's important to not sacrifice long-term obligations and commitments because of some short-term problems in the world," he said.

Notably, both school systems that Gill participates in — Gill-Montague and the Franklin County Technical School — have increased their assessments to Gill by about 10 percent this year. In most years, Purington said, Gill will get an increase from one school or the other. It is unusual for both to increase in one year.

At the same time, costs for trash and recycling services are increasing by 50 percent. Like most Franklin County towns, Gill has been impacted by changes at the Springfield facility that handles most of this area's recycling.

Those two increases, along with a "general sense of foreboding," have motivated Purington to be conservative in his recommendations to the Selectboard and Finance Committee, he said.

The major cutback, he said, is in the town's capital projects. In March, when the pandemic set in, the Capital Improvements Committee was reviewing its list of projects to recommend for FY '21. Now, the only one that is on the Town Meeting warrant is maintenance of the library building, worth $15,000.

Considering that revenues are still expected to be lower than usual, Purington is also recommending the town dip into its education stabilization account to offset the double increases from the two schools.

"This is the kind of situation we were setting it aside for," he said. "It's a concession to the fact that revenues are a little tight; and costs, especially education costs, have gone up."

The monthly budgets of the past six months will be incorporated into the annual budget, as if the town had been on a regular annual budget all along. The total figure of $3,620,717 represents a 5 percent increase over the FY '20 budget.

Apart from the budget and related financial items, the rest of the Town Meeting warrant is largely routine "housekeeping" items. Most notably, the town's lease of the Gill Elementary School building to the Gill-Montague School District is due to be renewed.

"I don't anticipate that being terribly contentious," Purington said. "Leases run out. It's time to renew the lease."

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-930-4231.

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