|Lanesborough Police Chief Retiring, Taxes Dropping|
|By Jeff Snoonian, iBerkshires Correspondent|
01:09AM / Tuesday, January 14, 2020
|The Lanesborough Selectmen talk about replacing the police chief on Monday. |
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Police Chief Timothy Sorrell will be retiring after serving five years in the position.
Sorrell was appointed chief in 2015 after serving in the Police Department for 28 years. He started full time in Lanesborough in 1987 as a patrolman. He served as sergeant for 12 years and was a finalist for the chief's position when the town decided to hire Mark Bashara. He then served as an investigator for twelve years under Bashara before getting the spot spot upon his retirement in 2015.
When asked for comment on Sorrell's departure on Monday, the Board of Selectmen said almost in unison, "he will be missed" and they all wished him luck along with Town Manager Kelli Robbins.
The process of finding his replacement was started immediately as the board wasted no time in forming a search committee.
Barbara Hassan, Tom Voisin, and Mark Siegars will serve on the search committee. Hassan has served on several committees in Lanesborough and currently serves on the Economic Development Committee along with Voisin. Mark Siegars serves on the Council on Aging Board.
Selectman Henry "Hank" Sayers wants to see a little overlap between the outgoing chief and his replacement.
"I think we would overlap a couple months," he said.
Robbins raised the issue of paying two full time police chiefs for two months as being fiscally unsound but Sayers persisted.
"I think we could scrounge it from somewhere. I'd like to see it at least a month to get to know the town because we don't know where he's coming from," he said.
The board settled on aiming for a mid-June hire at the latest.
Robbins will be guiding the search committee with the hiring process.
"I can reach out to the Small Town Administrators group [Small Town Administrators of Massachusetts] and ask for everyone to provide [search criteria] and then provide it to you," she said.
Sayers requested the board look at the town's policy of allowing town employees to put in requests for carryover time off from year to year.
"I just think we're getting a lot of requests for leftover time, a day here and a day there. I think we should just make it a solid rule, use it or lose it," he said.
After a short discussion, the board voted to enact the policy of not allowing employees to carry over any days off from one year to the next.
In a short interview with Robbins after the Selectmen's meeting, she relayed some previously unreported news of a significant drop in the property tax rate for 2020. Lanesborough's tax rate was $22.63 for fiscal 2019. Robbins said that will be dropping to $20.68 for 2020.
"I went through the budget as it was written and all of the different line items and discovered that there was a lot of excess in the budget. We were able to remove the excess without cutting anything out of the budget. There were two fully funded positions that didn't even exist anymore," she explained.
There was no money being expended directly as a result of these defunct positions still being in the budget but at the end of the fiscal year, the funds would revert to free cash or would be used to pay for unforeseen expenses within departments.
"This has nothing to do with the town's department heads, they didn't do this. There was money added to different departments that was then used to pay for things throughout the year that were not actually budgeted for. It was used kind of like a cushion but that's not responsible," Robbins said. "We were able to cut a little under $300,000 out of the budget without having to impact any of the services in town. I was really excited that we were able to do that."
According to Robbins, the average tax bill will be reduced by about $300.
The next meeting if the Lanesborough Board of Selectmen will be Monday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m.