Town meetings dispatch warrant articles

Hamilton and Wenham both held annual town meetings on April 6. In Hamilton, 142 residents dispatched a 32-article warrant in two hours, 40 minutes, approving the fiscal year 2014 operating budget ($8.2 million) and the town’s appropriation for the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District ($16 million). They also approved a proposal for a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion to pay the town’s share of the cost of building a new high school for the Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School District; the proposal was scheduled to go before voters at the town election last Thursday. The town has previously agreed to accept the debt, based on its participation in the 17-community school district, and barring dramatic population changes the effect on taxpayers will be minimal, according to Hamilton Finance director Deborah Nippes-Mena. In Wenham, 176 residents approved eight of the 10 articles on the warrant, including a citizens’ petition to change the town clerk’s term from one to three years, beginning with the 2014 annual town election. Town Meeting opted to pass over articles to make the town clerk and tree warden positions appointed positions. Residents approved an operating budget of $7.1 million as well as $7.2 million for the regional school district.