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CHARLESTOWN - The town council voted unanimously to adopt the fiscal year 2013 (FY13) municipal budget at their meeting on Monday night after passing a few last minute revisions that ultimately decreased the bottom line. The budget will be put to voters during an all day referendum on Monday, June 4.
The total of budgeted town expenditures for FY13 comes in at $25,967,594, which is $362,747 more than FY12, an increase of approximately 1.45 percent.
Before the meeting, the recommended budget bottom line was just north of $26.3 million, but the town council voted to withdraw $475,000 from the bottom line to go back into the townâ€™s general fund. That money was from a town allocation to assist the Charlestown Land Trust in the purchase of a 27.7-acre piece of land on the eastern shore of Watchaug Pond that was sold by the Ocean Community YMCA.
The motion to withdraw the funds, which was presented by Council President Tom Gentz, passed with a vote of 4-0. Councilman Dan Slattery recused himself from the vote because he is an abutter to the old YMCA property.
Acting Town Administrator Pat Anderson said that the town council will look for other ways to pay a portion of the tab that they said they would pick up for the YMCA land purchase. That investment would also bring with it a conservation easement for the town, which will protect the land from future development.
The town council had decided to approve the allocation by a vote of 3-1 at the Feb. 13 meeting. Slattery recused himself from that vote as well, and Councilwoman Lisa DiBello cast the only dissenting vote.
The decision came after a lengthy public hearing that evening that outlined both the positives and negatives of purchasing the land. The townâ€™s Planning Commission and Conservation Commission had contradictory opinions on the land and how the council should proceed in the matter. The Planning Commission supported the townâ€™s involvement in the acquisition of the land, while the Conservation Commission adamantly opposed.
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