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Sunderland approves $9.4M budget

  • Residents approved all but three articles — which were withdrawn by the Selectboard — at Friday’s annual Town Meeting at Sunderland Elementary School. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Sunderland Police Chief Erik Demetropoulos speaks to residents at Town Meeting about increases in the department’s budget, which will fund a new full-time police officer position. The article was approved unanimously. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE



Staff Writer
Monday, May 09, 2022

SUNDERLAND — With the Select Board opting to withdraw three articles in favor of using American Rescue Plan Act money, residents swiftly approved the remaining articles on the annual Town Meeting Warrant on Friday night.

Hosted at Sunderland Elementary School, the Select Board motioned to withdraw articles 5, 6 and 7, which would have appropriated funds to pay for Sunderland Elementary employee sick and vacation time, Sunderland’s share of a needs assessment for the South County Senior Center and the membership fee for the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District.

The remaining articles approved include a $9.39 million budget for fiscal year 2023 — a 4.2% increase from last year. With the approval of the budget, the Sunderland Police Department will be adding another full-time officer position in the near future.

“We haven’t been able to increase Police Department full-time staff since 2001 … having a full-time, certified officer would asssist with the increased number of calls,” Police Chief Erik Demetropoulos said. “It will help reduce wait times and allow the department to serve the community.”

Currently, the department’s eight part-time officers “supplement three shifts a week.” In July, Demetropoulos said the department will be down to seven part-time officers and the new full-time officer will “take the place of one of those part-time shifts.” The move for another full-time officer also comes from the town having to adapt to the state police reform bill, which requires all officers to be fully certified over the next few years.

In approving articles 10 and 11, residents appropriated $166,500 of Community Preservation Act money for the renovation of the restroom building and replacement of the storage shed at the town’s Riverside Park. Article 11 appropriated $100,000 to the town’s Conservation Trust, which helps fund the Conservation Commission’s conservation restrictions or purchases of land.

Residents also approved a change to the town’s personnel bylaws holiday section, which now match Massachusetts General Laws and add Juneteenth as a paid holiday.

The town also dedicated its annual report to Scott Bergeron, who served many years on Select Board and Finance Committee, as well as on several other boards.

“While the list is long, Scott’s contributions are immeasurable,” said Select Board Chair Tom Fydenkevez. “Scott, we appreciate your continued service to the town.”