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Wenham Selectmen Hand Off Budget With 2 Percent Increase

The Selectmen on Tuesday passed its recommended $12 million budget to Finance Committee.

The Wenham Board of Selectmen handed off a 2012 budget Tuesday that is 2 percent higher than this year's, but with no increase in funding for most departments and agencies.

The board passed the budget of $12,461,677 to the Finance Committee to finalize the budget for presentation to the Town Meeting on May 7.

Several items in the budget are either beyond the town's control or are for regional services and must be coordinated with the town of Hamilton.

Some highlights, as outlined by Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren, are:

  • No increase next year for the Regional School District.

  • A $10,000 increase for school debt.

  • Funding for the regional library, subject to negotiations with Hamilton.

  • A $10,000 increase in funding for the emergency center operations.

  • Full funding for a new van for the Council on Aging.

  • $10,000 for additional training for fire and police officers.

The budget assumes an 8 percent reduction in state aid, which Chelgren said is conservative. It projects a 4.5 percent increase in general insurance and a 10 percent increase in employee benefits.

Most employees will not receive a raise, but negotiations are on-going with AFSME and the fire union, he said.

The budget will also put aside an additional $23,000 in reserves to cover some uncertainties, he said.

It proposes to ask for $54,400 in capital investments that include funding for a police cruiser and two police radios.

The increase in the budget will require a property tax hike of 35 cents per $1,000 of value, said Selectman Harriet Davis.

Chairman Molly Martins summed up the budget presentation, saying, “Even in these difficult times, we are doing pretty well.”

Davis, who made it clear she was not endorsing the budget, but only passing it along to the Finance Committee, objected to buying a trackless machine for the . Chelgren said other ways to acquire the machine were being explored.

Selectman John Clemenzi was absent.

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