Lanesborough official escorted from town meeting by police after heated school budget debate

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LANESBOROUGH — Finance Committee Chairman Raymond Jones was ejected from Tuesday's annual town meeting following a contentious debate over the town's share of the Mount Greylock Regional School District budget.

Jones became upset and started shouting during debate on an amendment from the town meeting floor to boost Lanesborough's assessment to the newly expanded Mount Greylock Regional School District from $5,641,000 to $5,753,000. The $112,000 difference, according to district officials, to cover the shortfall of Lanesborough no longer receiving tuition money from New Ashford who send children to Lanesborough Elementary School. The tuition now goes directly to Mount Greylock, responsible for both Lanesborough and Williamstown elementary schools starting July 1. Both towns agreed last November to form a single prekindergarten through grade 12 district, previous just a 7-12 school system.

Jones felt the town has been stiffed on the tuition issue long enough.

"I'm tired of taxpayers of Laneborough subsidizing the children of New Ashford," he said. "We're not charging New Ashford 100 percent of the cost of education."

As Jones' voice got louder, Town Moderator Robert Reilly asked Jones to stop shouting at him. Jones said he wasn't shouting directly at Reilly.

The verbal exchange continued briefly, before Reilly asked the Lanesborough police present at the elementary school for the meeting to remove Jones from the gymnasium. Police Chief Timothy Sorrell and another officer escorted Jones from the building, after he got in a parting shot at Reilly.

"You have too much power," he said. "I did nothing wrong."

The meeting resumed and, by a count of 43-27, voters approved the amended amount for school spending.

Voters approved an overall fiscal 2019 operating budget of $10.87 million. The town meeting also backed the police department buying a $46,000 cruiser.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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