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Selectmen prepare to review Salem's 2014 budget

SALEM — The Board of Selectmen will hold its first two 2014 budget review meetings this week.

The first meeting is scheduled for tonight at 6 in the Salem High School media center. The second meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 6 p.m. in the Knightly Room at Salem Town Hall.

Last week, Town Manager Keith Hickey presented the board with a proposed 2014 municipal budget that would see a 2.14 percent increase in the town's portion of the property tax rate.

The proposed operating budget for the year is $40,484,961.

Taking into account water and sewer budgets, the roadway budget, and some capital projects that will be paid for either through bonding or unassigned funds that will not impact the tax rate, the total amount of spending set forward by Hickey for 2014 is $51,177,790.

Several selectmen have expressed a desire to cut the budget down so there is no increase in the property tax rate.

Hickey did present a list of items that would get the town to a level budget, but said he could not support those proposed cuts.Those items, totaling $580,500, include new F-350 pickup trucks for the fire and public works department, replacement of underground fuel tanks at the DPW, and funding for mosquito control, weed control and household hazardous waste days.Selectman Stephen Campbell noted that if the town is to cut the budget, the cuts will likely have to come through staffing. He asked Hickey to recommend five positions that could be cut from the budget and the fiscal impact it would have.

Hickey said he could not recommend cutting any positions from the budget, but did agree to provide information on the fiscal impact of all town positions, per Campbell's request.

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