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Charlestown Seeks Increase in Budget

Charlestown — A proposed operating budget of $3.73 million, which is nearly $100,000 or 2.5 percent higher than last year, will be among the articles debated at the Feb. 6 town meeting deliberative session at 6:30 in town hall on Summer Street.

Voters can pass the budget and other articles requesting appropriations as recommended or amend them at the deliberative session. The approved town warrant will then go to the March 12 town meeting vote.

The total proposed budget of $4.55 million includes $488,722 for the water fund and $326,586 for the sewer fund. Those funds are supported by user fees, not taxes.

The proposed town budget calls for increasing the police department budget by $30,500 to $695,626, and increasing the highways and street budget by $51,000 to $1.17 million.

In an earlier interview, Town Administrator Dave Edkins cited higher health insurance costs and increases in the town’s contribution to the state retirement system and legal fees as factors driving up the budget.

Also on the warrant are six articles for appropriations totaling $150,000, which is about $48,000 less than last year. If approved, three articles would put $25,000 each in reserve funds set aside for real estate reappraisal, masonry restoration and preservation at the library/municipal building, and highway heavy equipment.

Two other articles recommend lease and purchase agreements— $186,000 for a roll-off truck at the refuse transfer station and $175,000 for an ambulance. Trade-ins would reduce the cost by $50,000 for the truck and $2,500 for the ambulance. A $55,000 donation from the Charlestown Ambulance Attendants Association would further reduce the ambulance price to $117,695.

The last appropriation is $20,000 for heating upgrades at the town hall.

Residents have until Friday Feb. 1 to file to run for office.

Among the positions up for election are Select Board, one three-year term; Planning Board, two three-year terms; and Finance Committee, three, three-year terms.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.