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Hoosac wind project on Monroe agenda

MONROE – In this town of 121 people, annual town meeting voters will be asked to approve a $235,003 operating budget, and $31,602 for elected and appointed town officials.

They’ll also be asked to grant easements on town-owned land for the installation of poles, power lines and related equipment for the Hoosac Wind Project.

The meeting takes place Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall.

The $235,003 budget request is a $4,000 increase over this year’s spending plan, which was $231,000. The salaries and benefits spending is a $1,552 increase.

Besides budget items on the 34-article warrant, residents will be asked to authorize the Board of Selectmen to grant “perpetual” easement rights to the Massachusetts Electric Co. for placement, operation, maintenance and replacement of poles, lines and related structures and improvements for electricity and communications transmission on town-owned land.

The purpose of the easement requests pertains to the Hoosac wind farm now under construction, said Paul Copleman, a spokesman for Iberdrola Renewables. “They are for a path to interconnect the wind farm to the electric grid,” he said.

Work began November on putting in some access roads needed for the installation of a 19-turbine, $90 million Hoosac Wind Project – with nine of the 1.5-megawatt turbines to be installed on Crum Hill in Monroe and 10 to be installed on Bakke Mountain in Florida.

At this point, the road work is continuing. The components of the 220-foot wind towers are expected to arrive later this summer. The Hoosac Wind Project is owned by, and will be operated by, Iberdrola Renewables.

Residents will also consider whether to allow selectmen to apply for a grant of up to $1 million to upgrade the town’s wastewater treatment plant. If the town gets a grant/loan from the USDA Rural Water and Waste Disposal Utilities Program, the town would pay for 25 percent of sewer upgrade costs.

Other cost requests are:

• $195,483 for public school education for children in kindergarten through high school, and $37,258 for operating expenses at the Northern Berkshire Vocational School.

• $1,405 for its Franklin Regional Council of Governments core assessment and $468 for FRCOG’s regional health agent services.

• $52,000 for the salaries and operations at the sewer treatment plant.

• $16,000 for a full municipal audit.

• $32,000 for construction, maintenance and repair of roads.

• $16,542 for the Franklin County Retirement System.

• $18,000 for fuel for the Highway Department.