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Thursday, March 10, 2011

$10.3m budget OK’d handily

AMHERST – Voters put their stamp of approval on a new budget, police contract and a $2.1 million bond to repair three bridges in annual town elections Tuesday.

The $10.3 million budget, which passed by a 1,279 to 773 vote, is roughly $586,000, or about 5.8 percent, higher than the current budget. It adds about 20 cents per $1,000 valuation to property taxes, which figures to be a roughly $80 increase for a home assessed at $400,000.

Voting officials reported that of the 8,708 registered residents of Amherst, just 2,126, or about 24.4 percent, voted. The numbers were reportedly lower than average.

There was an unusual result Tuesday, as Warrant Article 26 resulted in a tie, 1,022 to 1,022. The vote was to authorize $154,223 to buy a new rescue/pumper truck for the Fire Department. Voters said it was the first time in 30 or more years that they’d seen a tie. A recount was expected to be held.

A new Police Department contract passed 1,431 to 647. It is a two-year agreement that would call for $82,000 in first-year costs and about $28,500 the next year.

The new contract gives a 1 percent wage increase to the 15 union members and restores the step scale for pay raises.

Voters also approved a $2.1 million bridge replacement bond in Warrant Article 22 by 1,462 to 600. It will fund repairs to three town bridges on the state Department of Transportation’s “red list,” meaning they need to go through regular safety inspections because of their below-average condition.

The three bridges to be repaired are Horace Greeley Road over Pulpit Brook, Manchester Road over Beaver Brook and New Boston Road over Beaver Brook.

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or