By James Niedzinski
---- — MANCHESTER — Voters who filled Manchester Memorial Elementary School Monday night backed a proposed operating budget with a 2.1 percent spending increase, and backed the town’s allocation to the newly merged North Shore Regional vo-tech school district.
But voters, who turned out for the Town Meeting at more than 350 strong — with others still arriving as of 8:30 p.m. — were still taking up controversial bylaw proposals that would ban stores’ distribution of single-use plastic bags and extend the time frame in which pet owners can walk their dogs on town beaches, with town officials projecting that meeting would likely be continued tonight.
The town’s municipal operating budget of $12,608,440 gained voters’ backing in the early going, and residents backed Manchester’s allocation of $80,335 to the newly merged regional vocational technical school program that is combining North Shore Tech and Essex Aggie in Middleton.
Residents were debating and still considering the town’s allocation to the Manchester Essex Regional School District as of press time.
Voters were also poised later last night to to ake up articles pertaining to the contaminated site of the towns former burn dump site on Pine Street. Town officials were seeking $1.5 million to reclaim and clean a property at Pine Street and properly clean the sites, as mandated by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Town Administrator Wayne Melville said prior to the meeting the money will be borrowed and spread out throughout a number of years. It is unknown what action the state DEP will take, if any, if the deadline of April of 2014 is not met.
Town Meeting residents and town officials began Monday night’s meeting by commending Melville, who retired as town administrator in January and is now serving in an interim role pending the hiring of a successor, along with Board of Selectmen members Susan Thorne and Mary Hardwick. Both Thorne and Hardwick are stepping down from the board.
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James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at email@example.com.