Key resolutions highlight Town Meeting docket in Shutesbury

Staff Writer
Friday, May 05, 2017

SHUTESBURY — Resolutions aimed at promoting a community that stands together to ensure each person is treated with respect and dignity, protecting sacred and ceremonial landscapes associated with Native Americans and raising the tax on fossil fuels will be considered by annual Town Meeting Saturday.

The 25-article warrant, including five citizen petition articles, begins at 9 a.m. at the Shutesbury Elementary School, an hour after polls open at the same location for town elections, which run until 2 p.m.

The lone contest on the ballot is for School Committee, where incumbents Daniel Hayes, 194 Wendell Road, and Stephen Sullivan, 444 Wendell Road, are being challenged for the two available three-year seats by Jennifer Malcolm-Brown, 72 Wendell Road.

Voters will be asked to adopt a $6.25 million budget, representing a $91,362, or 1.5 percent increase, over the current year’s $6.16 million budget, as well as a series of spending initiatives for town buildings.


One petition article is a nonbinding resolution “Honoring Our Differences in a Safe Community,” which suggests that one’s immigration status, race, national origin and ethnicity will have no bearing on how individuals are dealt with by the town’s police department.

“We support and encourage thoughtful and respectful dialogue and debate about controversial issues,” the petition reads. “It is a part of our democratic spirit of engagement.”

Another resolution is aimed at preserving Native American historical sites and traditional cultural properties, including ceremonial stone landscapes. The petition is aimed at better recognizing historic landscapes, after concerns have been raised about a large-scale solar project on Pratt Corner Road possibly damaging a burial ground.

The article mandates the Select Board, Historical Commission and Community Preservation Act Committee complete surveys of land in Shutesbury and document the priority landscapes to preserve.

Another petition seeks a carbon fee and dividend program through the state Legislature and U.S. Congress by “placing a steadily rising fee on carbon-based fuels, and returning all fees collected, minus administrative costs, to households.”

Budget and spending

The biggest dollar increases in the $6.25 million budget include $19,100, or 18.8 percent, for police wages, which are rising from $101,433 to $120,533; $46,006, or 2.4 percent, for the elementary school, going from $1.9 million to $1.946 million; and $35,605, or 2.1 percent, for the assessment for the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools, moving from $1.7 million to $1.735 million.

An amended budget assessment formula for the regional schools, which factors 10 percent wealth and 90 percent enrollment, must be unanimous, and has already been passed by Town Meetings in Amherst and Leverett. Pelham will also vote on the revised formula at its Town Meeting Saturday.

Shutesbury officials contend townspeople have been paying an overly high assessment for years, but the Select Board, in the town newsletter, will accept the one-year deal despite dissatisfaction with it.

Other spending articles, all transfers from free cash, include $50,020 to put flooring in four classrooms and do sidewalk repairs at the school; $25,000 to renovate the fire station parking lot; $25,000 for a town building repair and maintenance account; and $135,000 for the other post employment benefits trust fund.

Other articles

Two bylaws will be voted on by Town Meeting. One would mandate town offices to be closed on Saturdays, while the other would establish a right to farm, which gives more assurances that agricultural activity is seen as important.

Another article would give the Select Board the right to seek legislative approval for swapping parcels of town-owned land on Oak Knoll and Great Pines Drive for the so-called Mary Clark Lot, which would permit construction of a well for the Highway Department garage.

Other petitions include asking for greater transparency in political donations and limiting the influence of money on politics by supporting anti-corruption laws in the state and country, and a Lake Wyola zoning bylaw that would limit the height of buildings near the recreation area, unless a special permit is granted.


A mix of incumbents and newcomers will be on the ballot for the uncontested positions.

Incumbents seeking reelection include Norene Pease, 19 South Laurel Drive, and Kenneth Rotondi, 4 Leverett Road, for three-year terms on the Board of Health, Walter R. Tibbetts, 273 Pelham Hill Road, for a three-year position on the Cemetery Commission, Deacon Bonnar, 276 Montague Road, and Steven Bressler, 43 Old Orchard Road, for three-year posts on the Planning Board, and Susan Mosher, 360 Cooleyville Road, for a three-year term as town clerk.

Newcomers seeking election include Jaime M. Donta, 204 Montague Road, and Patricia S. Ouellette, 205 West Pelham Road, for three-year terms as trustees for the M.N. Spear Library, Robert Raymond, 145 Baker Road, for a three-year term on the Planning Board, and Timothy Logan, 15 Town Farm Road, for a three-year term on the Select Board.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.