On January 15, 2018, Rural Commonwealth convened a meeting of the Small Town Summit in the Selectboard Room in the Dalton Town Hall. Thirty Selectboard and Finance Committee members, along with other interested folks, filled the room to discuss issues affecting our small towns. Along with our faithful folks, we are happy to add people from Clarksburg and Lanesborough.
Rural Commonwealth is tracking legislation that affects small towns. Now that the Governor’s budget has been published, we will be preparing a letter available to towns wanting to urge consideration of our rural needs. Issues include lack of revenue for towns, Amtrak service from Rensselaer to western Mass, disposition of the ambulance bill in the House, sparsity aid for regional schools, chapter 90 reimbursement, regional transportation (besides Amtrak), ballot questions that impact rural towns, need for incentive funds for towns to regionalize services.
It was recognized that we need examples of regionalization done well, since there is no need to reinvent good practices. Three towns brought up issues surrounding solar farms, “How should our towns negotiate solar farm construction, tax breaks and land use?”
The next meeting of the Small Town Summit will take place on March 15, 2018 at 7pm in Huntington. (Small date is March 22).