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Tyringham OKs spending measures; no commitment on broadband  

Voters were divided over the lengthy bylaw proposal governing the installation of wind and solar energy projects in town. The 34-32 margin in favor wasn't enough to meet the two-thirds majority required for approval. Many felt the 10-page document allowing only solar arrays and wind turbines for residential or agricultural use needed further review by townspeople. Town officials said the bylaw is based on a state model the gives rural communities such as Tyringham permission to prohibit commercial green energy projects.

Credit:  By Dick Lindsay | Berkshire Eagle | 05/13/2015 | www.berkshireeagle.com ~~

TYRINGHAM >> Before borrowing $900,000 – big bucks by Tyringham’s financial standards – to bring broadband service to the community, town officials vow to further study the proposal.

The pledge from the Board of Selectmen came at the end of the annual town meeting Tuesday, where voters did approve a total fiscal 2016 spending package of $1,487,133. All budgetary items on the 17-article warrant were approved; only a proposed bylaw governing solar and wind energy projects was rejected.

Taking about an hour to dispense with the warrant, several townspeople were most inquisitive about the town’s status with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. MBI is assisting rural Western Massachusetts communities get 21st century Internet service.

Several small Berkshire towns this spring took votes to fund their participation in WiredWest, a consortium dedicated to providing broadband service to underserved communities. But Tyringham officials declined to put the measure up for a vote, believing it was still too soon to financially commit to the project.

“I want more concrete data before I come to you and ask the town to take out a bond,” said Selectman Christopher Johnson.

MBI has estimated Tyringham would need to borrow $900,000 to blanket the town with high-speed Internet. The six-figure loan is 60 percent of what the town annually spends on its operating expenses.

Town officials have until July 2016 to commit, something town officials say could be through WiredWest or an alternative provider.

“I can see [broadband] as a benefit and not at too high of a cost,” said Holly Ketron, chairwoman of the town’s broadband committee.

Annual Town Meeting backed the $1.48 million budget that takes effect July 1, which likely will translate into a 2.5 percent hike in the property tax for fiscal 2016, according to Finance Committee Chairman James Consolati.

Aside from the regular operating expenses, Tyringham faces several expensive projects, such as $70,000 repairs to the town library.

The library work was one of several special money articles funded with surplus funds, so-called “free cash” to keep the tax rate from climbing above the 2.5 percent mark.

Voters were divided over the lengthy bylaw proposal governing the installation of wind and solar energy projects in town. The 34-32 margin in favor wasn’t enough to meet the two-thirds majority required for approval.

Many felt the 10-page document allowing only solar arrays and wind turbines for residential or agricultural use needed further review by townspeople. Town officials said the bylaw is based on a state model the gives rural communities such as Tyringham permission to prohibit commercial green energy projects.

Prior to the meeting, voters had one item on a special town meeting warrant. They approved of using $50,000 in surplus money to hire an engineer to determine if the Jerusalem Road Bridge near Town Hall needs replacement or can be repaired.

Source:  By Dick Lindsay | Berkshire Eagle | 05/13/2015 | www.berkshireeagle.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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