WESTHAMPTON — The annual Town Meeting staged on May 11 drew a good crowd and accomplished a wide variety of tasks to manage the town’s accounts. Many of the 39 articles were consent articles, required on Town Meeting warrants by the commonwealth, or that enable town departments to carry out daily business.

Specific pieces of business were also taken care of.

Article 4 created a new revolving fund for electrical, plumbing and gas inspections, which required a change to town bylaws. Article 5 also changed the bylaws, but in regards to cemeteries. Going forward, plot sales will not fund the cemeteries. The Cemetery Commission is now responsible for upkeep of the burying grounds, not a superintendent.

Article 6 authorized funding the Perry Hill Road Extension project. Monies can be raised for land purchases as well as to accomplish the work.

Article 7 reduced the number of members of the Finance Committee from 10 to seven. Article 8 also amended the bylaws. The Article allows inspectors to work their trade in town, as long as someone else inspects their work. Article 10 allows the town to charge a $10 fee whenever a demand is issued for late tax payments, to be added to the tax bill.

Article 13 allocated funds for fiscal year 2025 revolving funds. The revolving funds were primed with $4,000 for the Fire Department, $8,000 for the Westhampton Cemetery and $6,000 for the electrical and plumbing inspectors.

Article 32 authorizes town officials to contract for a solar array to be built on the public safety complex. Article 33 authorizes the purchase of a wheeled excavator for the Highway Department, including any necessary added fittings. The town’s offices will see equipment upgrades now that Article 34 was passed, which funds the replacement of workstations, laptops, monitors and printers.

Voters favored Article 35, which allocated funds to the town’s sesquicentennial birthday, coming in 2028. No amount was included in the warrant article, which is becoming more common. Instead, voters were directed to a budget workbook featuring spreadsheets on the spending and incomes of various town departments.

There was some discussion among voters about several articles, according to an email from Town Clerk Katrin Kaminsky, but she could not be reached for comment during office hours. But voters were accepting of anticipated increases and corresponding efforts to control costs.

General government, which includes most boards and committees, the treasurer and tax collector’s offices and the town clerk. That budget dropped by 3.3% to $398,691. The only significant increase on that spreadsheet was a 50.3% increase in the allocation for the Town Clerk’s expenses.

The budget of the Police Department showed a 0.6% decrease — essentially level funding — though costs were reduced by $2,170. The total public safety budget will be $334,418. That amount was recommended by the Finance Committee.

The town’s education budget went up just 3.1%, or $126,733, to $4,19 million. The employee instability at Hampshire Regional School District has sent those costs higher, so voters were probably relieved Westhampton’s share of the increase wasn’t larger.

The budget for the DPW was larger by 5.1%, as recommended by the Finance Committee. Driving that increase were jumps in the costs of landfill maintenance, cemetery salaries and highway materials.

The town’s human services budget, whcih dropped 14.5% last year, rose this year by 20.5%, to $62,512. Council on Aging expenses and veterans costs drove the small dollar increase. Culture and Recreation spending, which goes to the library, rose 9.5% to $11,965. Debt service remained at the level of FY24 while unclassified expenses rose 3.3%.

Overall, the town budget increased by 3.3%, from $6.83 million to $7.05 million.

The non-education increases accounted for $99,756 while the school costs increased by $226,438.

dpruyne@thereminder.com | + posts