LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Nearly 80 voters gathered at Lanesborough Primary School and approved 18 of 19 terms of reference at Saturday’s annual town hall meeting.
Article 2 approved the city’s $10.34 million budget after significant discussion and an amendment to remove proposed wage increases for city employees. Finance committee chair Jodi-Lee Szczepaniak-Locke said such salary increases are unnecessary at this time.
“We believe it is important, more important than ever, to be conservative and face so many unknowns in the future and the growing needs of our city… We realize that people in these positions perform their work exceptionally well, but it’s about the position and the responsibilities, not the person,” she said.
Finance committee member Steven Wentworth said he personally didn’t think the increases, which totaled about $88,000, were warranted. He said a recent pay survey used to decide on raises was flawed and biased.
“To me, someone who has spent 35 years in accounting and finance, for this finance committee, and in my view any Commonwealth finance committee that has spent an hour understanding its construction, would demand a breach of the ethics to support it,” he said. mentioned.
City administrator Joshua Lang said pay increases could help the city retain staff. He said failure to keep salaries competitive could lead to retention issues for city employees in the future.
“We continually see staff leaving for other cities. And I think we’re going to continue to have a problem if we don’t fix it now,” he said.
An amendment brought by Council on Aging Treasurer Linda Pruyne to increase the City Clerk’s salary by $6,466 was approved.
“In my opinion, the city clerk was underpaid for many years and never said anything about it,” she said. “She never asked for a raise.”
Another budget amendment will change the budget for the Council of Appraisers to bring an appraiser back to the city, after the city outsourced the work of the appraiser last year. The additional cost of this change is $6,400
Article 19, a citizens’ petition proposing that the city enact a law to organize recall elections was filed by 25 votes to 24 with one abstention. Several residents have expressed questions and concerns about the details of the article.
Barbara Davis-Hassan, who created the petition, said she’s been working for about a year to get the recall legislation on the city’s books. After the approval of the municipal assembly, according to Hassan, the state legislature should also review and approve the recall provision.
“There were some negative reactions and some issues because it was mentioned that it seemed very confusing. Yes, it is very confusing,” she said. “We looked into it quite a bit. I spoke to the city clerks, with [Ruth Knysh]. We’ve gotten to a point where it makes sense.”
Items 4 and 5, which were approved, will allocate $315,000 to the operations of the ambulance company, which was previously part of the fire department’s budget. The City will generate $106,000 of this credit through user fees.
• Section 3 allows the city to incur transportation bond bill expenditures to repair city roads.
• Section 6 allows the ambulance company to spend $15,000 of retained earnings to cover unforeseen costs beginning in fiscal year 2022.
• Section 7 allocates $66,860.00 to sewer company operations from departmental receipts and Section 13 uses $43,000 in cash to pay for a sewer compliance survey conducted during the fiscal year 2022, was also approved.
• Section 8 allows for an allocation of $16,700 to the Local Access Television Enterprise Fund, of which $15,000 will come from user fees.
• Section 9 allocates $247,177 to the District of Baker Hill Road for police salaries and an expense account for fiscal year 2023. This funding would come from money the city receives from the district.
• Section 10 has been approved and will allow the transfer of $47,823.45 from the money available to pay Public Works Director William Decelles for unused sick leave and vacation on retirement, such as agreed in his contract.
• Section 11 creates a trust fund for other post-employment benefits managed by the city treasurer. Section 12, which was also approved, will transfer $50,000 of available money into this fund.
• Section 14 transfers $30,000 from the district fund to finance the purchase of a new police vehicle.
• Section 15 was approved and will change the name of the Board of Selectmen to Select Board.
• Clause 16 lowers the age of eligibility for seniors from 70 to 65 and increases the current tax exemption amount from $500 to $1,000. This change will come into effect at the beginning of fiscal year 2023.
• Section 17 directs the city to draft and submit a letter to the state legislature requesting support for local financial efforts for ambulance, fire, and other emergency management services.
• Section 18 allows the city to sell or use for general municipal purposes a 19-acre property at North Main Street. After an amendment, the finance committee and the select committee will have to agree on any action with the property.
Keywords: town meeting 2022,