GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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May 5, 2013

Voters face Conomo Point, riverwalk, budgets

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a corrected version of this story. The initial version reported that the budget included an allocatioin for design plans for a new public safety facility, but that is no longer part of the budget or the warrant.

ESSEX — Facing 41 articles on their Annual Town Meeting warrant, Essex voters will decide beginning Monday night whether to create a new Conomo Point district, approve easements for a river walk, back new three-year contracts for two of the town’s municipal unions — all the while tackling the town’s fiscal 2014 budget and more.

The proposed operating budget for the town is up by roughly $166,766, up about 1.1 percent, compared to the general operating budget of about $15.6 million approved last year.

In its annual report, the Finance Committee notes about $6.5 million for the regional school allocations, $1,589,014 for the public safety budget, $1,306,587 for general government costs and $1,910,643 for the sewer enterprise fund. Part of the general government budget also includes the water enterprise fund.

The report states the fire department has requested an additional $35,000 for salaries, citing the need for daytime coverage. The town stands to save $150,000 through the regional dispatch center.

The full warrant can be found online at essexma.org or at the Town Clerk’s office, while the meeting – tentatively planned to cover two nights — is set to start both Monday and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Essex Elementary School.

Of the 41 warrant articles, 11 of them deal with Conomo Point — six proposed by town officials, and five others as citizen petitions.

Article 10, if passed, would create a district known as central Conomo Point. The creation of the district is the first step in selling the areas of Robbins Island Road and Beach Circle.

If the district is created, an article would appear on the 2014 Annual Town Meeting warrant that would propose the sale of the district. Beach Circle and Robbins Island Road contain roughly 22 properties, their sale could net the town roughly $8,278,000, according to preliminary figures presented by the Finance Committee during a public forum.

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