GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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April 1, 2013

Bags, dogs, budgets on Manchester warrant

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a corrected version of this story, correcting the town budget figures.

MANCHESTER — One article would pave the way for a ban on the disbribution of plastic bags by local grocery and convenience stores.

Another would give dog owners two extra months to walk their pets on town beaches, another would carry out a takeover of a Pine Street property for enviornmental cleanup — and yet another series of articles will tackle a proposed town budget that includes increases for the school district and town employee pay hikes.

In all, Manchester voters will face 29 articles on their warrant at the Annual Town Meeting, which is set for tonight at 7 p.m. at Memorial Elementary School – and could continue Tuesday as well if necessary.

Moderator Alan Wilson said Friday he is expecting more than 600 people showing up, and predicts the meeting may well extend into a second night.

”But I’ve been wrong before,” Wilson said of the time expected for the meeting. “I’m expecting a very serious discussion on a number of articles.”

The meeting will include discussion and voting on a fiscal 2014 budget of $27,823,273, an increase of $578,000 compared to spending for the current year, according to the Finance Committee’s Annual Town Report for 2 013.

But according to the regional school district budget, Manchester’s total assessment is up 3.26 percent — or $575,945 — compared to last year. The annual town report states the rise is due to the increased population in the district by Manchester residents and the fact that expenditures that were previously put off. In addition, the school budget has a fairly conservative amount set aside for state funding, the report states.

Other rising costs include pay to town employees, up approximately 5.3 percent ($283,196) mostly due to contracts approved at last years meeting and retroactive pay raises, the report states.

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