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January 31. 2014 1:03AM

Salem voters set to discuss $40.36 million budget

SALEM -- A town operating budget of just over $40 million is on the warrant for this year's Town Meeting deliberative session.

The Town Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1, at 9 a.m. at Salem High School. The town election is scheduled for Tuesday, March 11.

This year's proposed operating budget is $40,362,397, about $1.7 million over the 2013 operating budget.

Town Manager Keith Hickey said much of that $1.7 million increase is the result of one-time expenses and will be offset by increases in revenue.

"It's important to look at the tax rate and it shows an increase of 1.42 percent," said Hickey. "We've increased revenues where we could to offset the costs of the $1.7 million increase in the operating budget."

Some of those increased expenses in the budget include a new underground fuel tank for the Public Works Department and new computers for the town government.

The underground fuel tank costs $677,000, but a little over $400,000 of that will be offset by the state, according to Hickey.

He said the new computers are necessary because many of the town's computers run Windows XP, an operating system that will no longer be supported by Windows.

The computer purchases will be funded through the town's unassigned fund balance, so there will be no impact on the tax rate, Hickey said.

There are also separate articles for the roadway capital reserve fund, the purchase of new fire department vehicles, and for plowing and snow removal.

The $1,925,000 for the purchase of a ladder truck and heavy rescue truck would also come from the town's unassigned fund balance and would not impact the tax rate.

In addition to the financial articles, there also are a number of articles looking for changes in town planning and zoning ordinances.

One would rezone a portion of the current police station property to make it more attractive for future development if the town ever decides to build a new public safety complex in another location.

Another article would allow for the placement of temporary signs on private property for events sponsored by nonprofit organizations.

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