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Whately voters to weigh in on Frontier budget at Thursday Town Meeting

— Thursday townspeople will be asked to approve a $4,339,493 budget for next year, $81,845, or 2 percent, more than this year’s $4,257,648 figure.

At the Whately Elementary School starting at 7 p.m., townspeople will consider Frontier Regional School capital requests, a town ambulance upgrade and engineering costs for Town Hall renovation and expansion.

With the recommendation of Finance Committee and Select Board members, the Frontier Regional budget and capital requests have a clear path to passage in Whately. The town has recommended the School Committee’s $899,593 for operations and transportation.

Whately would be the third town Frontier needs to fund its budget. Sunderland and Deerfield already approved their shares.

The passage would end a long budget battle, in which Deerfield and Conway Finance Committee and Select Board members called for a smaller budget and the School Committee insisted it made all the cuts it could.

Unlike its neighbors that supported only parts of the $133,250 Frontier capital requests, Whately leaders recommend the town pay its full $20,653 share for safety and security updates, electrical fixes, a pickup truck replacement and student transport van.

The Whately Elementary School budget would increase by 1.42 percent or $21,173. The proposed budget is $1,517,126 compared to the current year’s $1,495,953, an increase that would cover the cost of a shared technology director between the Union 38 schools in Deerfield, Whately, Sunderland and Conway. Whately’s share is $5,379. It also owes $6,625 for instructional hardware and $2,431 for transportation.

The town’s share of the Franklin County Technical School is $124,763, a decrease of $10,439.

Total town government operations, including public safety, public health and the highway department, would cost $1,691,506 next year.

The tab for public safety is up $46,049. The ambulance jumps $32,165 to pay EMTs for on-call shifts. The entire operating budget for the ambulance is $56,143. The previous budget was $23,978. The increase pays for the plan to improve EMT response time and staffing needs through on-call shifts and higher stipends. The plan gives the Whately Select Board an option to consider separately from a proposed regional paramedic service with Deerfield and Sunderland.

The fire department budget would also increase $1,330 to $45,511. Police money would rise $11,401 to $162,999 to pay for mandated training and raises.

Aside from the Frontier and ambulance capital requests, townspeople will consider two more capital projects: $8,700 for improvements to the handicapped ramp and entrance to the S. White Dickinson Library; and $84,983 to pay for the architectural and engineering services for the renovation and addition at the historic Town Hall.

Voters will also consider two proposed CPA projects and a resolution by nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center calling for Baystate Health System to maintain a broad range of health services at the Greenfield hospital.

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