Vol. III No. 11 6/1/2022
Notes from the Stockbridge Town Meeting, May 16
Town Moderator: Gary Johnston
Present: Select Board, Finance Committee, Town Administrator and Town Counsel, 99 voters as meeting commenced, 108 voters at the height, and 84 voters at end of meeting. No count on number who watched on TV or Internet — they could not vote.
- Moderator announced masks not required unless unvaccinated and then masks provided.
- Moderator bid farewell and thank you to Neil Holden who is retiring after serving on the Finance Committee for many years
- First order of business — Article One — to appoint for one year: Fence Viewers, Measurers of Wood and of Coal, Weigher of Sand and Gravel, and Field Driver. Passed
- Instructions on how to use voting "clicker"
- Motion to accept all reports printed in Annual Report accepted. Passed
- Motion to accept salaries of elected officials as follows:
- Tree Warden $2252
- Chair Board of Assessors $3987; members $3193
- Town Clerk $47,756,
- Town Moderator $252
- Chair Select Board $5552; members $4545
- Motion passed
- All other Town salaries (up 2-3% plus new position in SPD) passed
- Total proposed operating budget (minus schools) $7, 9057,779 up approx. $400,00. Passed
- School budget $3,501,086
- Sally Underwood-Miller asked — how many students Ans: 118
- Approx. $90,000 for debt service/schools. Passed
- $4,000,000 infrastructure Article. Passed
- Included Salt Shed, Tuckerman and Averic Bridges, and Pump Station/Park Street
- Richard Selzer asked why the Curtisville Bridge is not on the list as it has been out of use for years. Answer: Some years ago, Stockbridge accepted a grant from Mass Historic to repair that bridge. Thereafter, Mass Historic has to approve all work done on the bridge. That process is holding things up.
- John Hart asked for breakdown of $4 million: Tuckerman $1.7 plus $330,000 design; Averic $1.2; Fire Engine $750,000; Salt Shed $400,000 + $48,000; Pump Station $200,000 in addition to amount approved last year
- Article passed
- Additional $250,000 for fire engines — passed
- Next eight Articles were for transferring funds, borrowing funds, and purchasing vehicles for Highway Department, and also for Kampoosa Bog. All passed with little discussion. Selzer asked about the harvester and when it would be repaired, but Moderator ruled question out of order.
- Following was the first Article with any debate: $35,000 for the Rest of the River (ROR) project. Charlie Kenny rose and asked that the article be tabled until it could be discussed at a public meeting.
- Shatz rose to say there was no reason for meeting as he had been answering questions for nine years.
- Tom Stokes supported Kenny urging transparency and saying voters were not well informed on this issue and still had questions.
- Town Counsel argued that the annual payment of $35,000 was a requirement pursuant to a legal agreement as was a $1.5 million escrow account.
- Moderator said a 2/3 vote was required to table the Article. The motion to table failed.
- The CPC Articles were presented in declining amounts to be spent. The next items funded roof on the Town Beach building; tools for the Highway Dept; signage in Ice Glen and painting the Interlaken Firehouse
- Articles 41 — 56 were all Community Preservation Committee recommended grants. Read individually, they were all approved by CPC, SB and the Finance Committee. All passed
- The recommendation — non-binding — to change the Commonwealth Flag by removing the figure of the Native American.
- Proponents argued it was demeaning
- Nick Nadorff argued it preserved our honest history
- Town scholarship passed
- Continuation of hybrid meetings (as amended) passed
Town Meeting adjourned at 9:27 (Three hours — nice to have our Moderator back)
1. The positions (mentioned in Article 1) are symbolic and an echo from our past. They also include Hog Reeve (to round up stray hogs), Pipestave (to inspect pipes, that is, barrels to be sure they were sound and made to measure), fence viewer (to establish property lines), wood measurer, coal measurer, and inspector of hay have obvious tasks, and a Field Driver collects all other animals running loose as a Hog Reeve does with hogs only.
2. ROR annual payment of $35,000 plus a $1.5 million escrow account is to pay for ensuring that GE honors the terms of the agreement. Examples of questions unanswered: Why are the five towns — the recipients of the award — paying to assure compliance? Why has Lee voted not to pay it? Shatz recited that the process has gone on for nine years, and he has attended perhaps 100 meetings as the Stockbridge representative. However, he did answer questions or explain why he did not have an obligation to report to the town. Finally, if Town Counsel (TC) is correct and this is a legal obligation pursuant to a signed agreement, why is it on the Warrant every year? Wouldn't once, prior to signing the agreement, be enough?
Photo: Jay Rhind