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Washington voters to consider near-level funded budget

WASHINGTON – Local taxpayers will likely pay for a nearly level-funded budget for the new fiscal year starting July 1.

Annual Town Meeting on Saturday night will consider an overall, fiscal 2015 spending plan of $1,508,000, roughly a $4,000 increase over the current budget, according to town officials.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 8 Summit Hill Road.

Finance Committee Chairman Dick Spencer said the goal every year is to minimize spending hikes.

“We squeeze the pennies,” he said.

The biggest budget item is the town’s share of public education. Article 8 of the 26-article warrant seeks voter approval of Washington’s $586,000 assessment to the Central Berkshire Regional School District, an increase of $12,000 compared to fiscal 2014, which ends June 30.

Town Meeting also will consider borrowing $100,000 toward the purchase of a highway truck with a plow costing just over $200,000. Spencer said the town will use some of its Chapter 90 state highway fund allocation to cover the difference.

Another article calls for using $50,000 in surplus funds to lessen the tax impact of the fiscal 2015 budget. If all money articles are approved, Spencer said the current tax rate is expected to increase 6 cents per $1,000 assessed value, from $13.43 to $13.49.

The final article revises the town’s bylaws governing wind turbine projects. Voters will be asked to add a section that prohibits large- scale wind electric generation defined as any facility with a maximum generation capacity of greater than 60 kilowatts.

Meanwhile, all incumbents listed on next week’s annual town election ballot are running unopposed, including Selectman Michael Case. Two races listed are in need of write-in candidates as none are listed for the two-year unexpired terms for the town auditor and a seat on the Finance Committee.

Polls will be open from noon to 4 p.m. May 16 at Town Hall.