Greenfield Recorder – Budget of $6.4 million, slew of capital projects up for vote in Whately

WHATELY – Voters will be asked at the annual City Council meeting to consider a $6.4 million budget for fiscal year 2025 and a slew of capital projects.

The meeting will take place outside Whately Elementary School on Tuesday, June 18 at 6 p.m. The $6.4 million operating budget represents a 6.3% increase over this year’s figures, with several factors driving the increases, including a $108,000 increase from Whately Elementary School and $89,000 from Frontier Regional School.

“We’ve taken some pretty big hits from the schools,” Selectboard Chairman Fred Baron explains, emphasizing that they don’t want to undermine funding for the schools. “For a year in which we have so many big hits, I really don’t think it’s a bad budget.”

To ease the burden on residents, Article 10 calls for a transfer of $225,000 from free cash to reduce the tax levy.

Capital requests

Residents will also be asked to consider six capital appropriations related to the elementary school, Highway Department, Police Department and S. White Dickinson Memorial Library.

Items 13 through 15 ask residents to contribute free funds of $54,000, $10,000 and $13,500, respectively, for the installation of electrical subpanels, the purchase and installation of carpeting for kindergarten restrooms, and the installation of exterior doors at Whately Elementary School.

Section 16 asks residents to appropriate $30,000 from the Vehicle Stabilization Account and $36,000 from free cash to purchase a hybrid pickup for the Highway Department, which will replace the current 15-year-old truck. Similarly, Article 18 asks voters to transfer $65,000 of free cash to purchase and equip a hybrid cruiser for the police.

Baron said money will be needed to maintain the school’s old building and all department equipment will need to be replaced at some point, but the city is trying to “get as much return on the capital investments” as possible.

“They will always be there,” Baron said of capital purchases. “You buy things, you use them and you replace them.”

Changes in the articles of association

There are also several proposals from the Planning Bureau on the table, with Article 27 at the top of the list. The article is a request from the Planning Board for residents to amend the city’s housing ordinance and add a new section dedicated to community housing, which the board says will promote housing diversity and affordability.

The proposal mirrors the state’s Chapter 40B by relaxing size requirements and allowing more units per lot, but still requires projects to go through the local approval process.

“What we’re proposing here is that the city include in its bylaws many of the same exemptions that would be in effect in 40B … but the approval would come not from the state, but from the city,” said Planning Board member. said Judy Markland at a meeting in March. “The idea here is that no one gets more rights than they would have had before, or fewer rights; we just turn the permitting process over to the city so that there is some control or protection.

Community housing projects could be eligible for construction in the Agricultural/Residential 1, Agricultural/Residential 2 and Commercial districts with a special permit. No housing projects are permitted in the Trade-Industry zoning plan.

Petitions from citizens

In addition to the 29 articles submitted by the city, there are also three citizen petitions regarding the arrest warrant for Tuesday evening.

The first article, Article 30, asks residents to petition the United States Postal Service to consolidate the city’s four zip codes into just 01093. The topic was brought to the attention of brought to residents when the Selectboard investigated how the city’s zip code could be changed. but a forum attended by dozens of residents resulted in an almost evenly split response from the community, leading the jury to maintain the status quo on the proposal.

Article 31 is a citizen petition asking residents to pass a resolution calling on Congress and President Joe Biden to “take all measures necessary to end the war in Gaza.” If the article passes, the city clerk will be asked to send a copy of the resolution to Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and U.S. Representative Jim McGovern.

The latest citizen petition, part of an initiative led by Frontier high school students, calls on the city to ask the Legislature to lower the municipal voting age to 16 in an effort to encourage more civic participation in cities.

“I thought it would be a really cool way to learn more about the community, and as I learned more about it, I realized it’s something that I strongly feel should move past,” Whately said- resident and Frontier 7th grader Araceli McCoy in an April Greenfield Recorder story.

The measure was brought forward in the other three border towns, where it passed in Conway and Sunderland but was defeated by three votes in Deerfield.

Other articles for consideration include:

■Transferring $6,500 of free cash for resealing exterior stones at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library.

■Transferring $199,400 in Community Preservation Act revenues to the city’s CPA reserve accounts for future use.

■Appropriating $5,000 and $16,525, respectively, in CPA funds to pay for the replacement of rotted sills in the city barn at 215 Chestnut Plain Road and to pay for two batting cages at Herlihy Field.

■Adopting an updated zoning map that excludes areas designated in the now-abandoned Whately Water District public water supply.

The full town meeting order, as well as an explanation, can be found at bit.ly/3VpP5Bm.

Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4081.