BELCHERTOWN — The May 13 annual Town Meeting presented a 40-article warrant to the community with all items passing by majority vote after some focused discussion on areas of local interest and budgetary concern.

A four-article special Town Meeting Warrant for fiscal year 2024 preceded the annual Town Meeting, with approval for the transfer of town free cash funds to address payment of unpaid bills from the prior fiscal year, the opioid settlement special revenue fund and the creation of a Special Leave Injury Indemnity Fund.

Those in attendance at Belchertown High School were able to vote electronically for the second consecutive year.

Town Moderator Benjamin Farrell introduced the return of the warrant read by Town Clerk Theresa Camerlin.

Introductory articles concerning confirmation of some town offices, allocation of free cash sums within departments, as well as salary and compensation schedules all passed audience vote without discussion.

Warrant articles addressing town codes, fee and fine schedules also passed swiftly without comment or objection by voters in attendance, while some minor clarification was sought regarding zoning bylaws related to housing and accessory apartment structures. Design and site standards were also outlined and approved in the warrant articles.

Battery storage regulations for energy derived from solar and wind systems outlined permitting and constructions standards for independent use while also clarifying the review requirements by Fire Department, Conservation Commission and other town officials.

Voters also approved allocations from Community Preservation Act funding for several projects including storage sheds at Foley Field and Chestnut Hill Community School as well as for engineering and design detail for the Jabish Brook Trestle Bridge.

The dominant area of discussion concerned Belchertown’s more than $1.5 million budget allocation for the Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School District, which offers vocational programs and training for students in several area districts. Questions were raised about the monetary share in light of the town’s reduction in its own school budget prior to the affirmation of the town’s $61.5 million overall budget.

Community members, questioning the district benefits, inquired about the number of Belchertown students currently enrolled in programming at Pathfinder. Eric Duda, Pathfinder superintendent, was present at the meeting and put the present number at 115.

Select Board Chair Edward Boscher, acknowledging both the allocations and cuts, stated, “I want Pathfinder to succeed but I want my school to succeed.”

Finalization of the town manager title and duties from town administrator met with voter approval as did that of animal control officer from the previous dog officer designation.

The meeting warrant did cover any discussion or information related to the proposed $121 million funding for the Jabish Brook Middle School which will be determined by a special election vote on June 17 and Town Meeting on June 24.

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