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Charlestown Residents to Vote on $4.6 Million Town Budget

Charlestown — Voters in Charlestown kept all nine warrant articles as is before March’s elections.

About 45 Charlestown residents, or 2 percent of the 2,200 registered voters, turned out for the deliberative session Wednesday night at town hall, discussing articles that include a proposed $4,552,516 operating budget, up 2.6 percent over last year’s budget.

As Roger Thibodeau, chairman of the town’s finance committee, gave a breakdown of line item percentage changes over last year’s budget, one number that caught the attention of multiple residents was the 200 percent increase in legal expenses.

Town Manager David M. Edkins explained.

“TransCanada is challenging its (property) assessment pretty aggressively,” he said of one of the town’s largest property owners. “We’re also being sued by FairPoint, as is every other town in the state, over the assessment of their poles and conduits.”

This year’s warrant also takes another shot, as it has for several years in a row, to obtain a new ambulance.

This year, the Charlestown Ambulance Attendants Association is contributing $55,000 toward a proposed five-year lease and purchase agreement for a new $117,695 ambulance.

“Our (older of two) ambulance is 17 years old,” said Anthony F. Giordano, director of operations for Charlestown Ambulance. “It’s unsafe at this point, and that’s why we’ve offered the $55,000. We have two ambulances, and we always have, and I feel the town definitely needs two ambulances, and definitely needs a new ambulance.”

Other warrant articles set to appear on the ballot next month include entering into a lease and purchase agreement for a $136,000 sanitation truck, $20,000 for heating upgrades at town hall, and various capital reserve fund investments.