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    Vote approves Town Hall renovations

    Last week, Town Meeting approved, by a vote of 171 to 53, spending $6.5 million on the renovation of Town Hall . Of the total, $2 million will come from Community Preservation Act funds and the rest will be borrowed. The renovation will make the Town Hall, built in 1884, handicapped accessible and increase office space, as well as repair some structural problems. The town offices will be moved to Holy Angels Church next month to make way for the yearlong renovation. Town Manager Blythe Robinson said the move should be accomplished in a single weekend; and she hopes the renovation can be completed by Sept. 23, 2014, the 130th anniversary of the original Town Hall’s dedication. Town Meeting also approved the budget for next fiscal year; the final figure, nearly $17.6 million, is a 1.8 percent increase over this year, Robinson said. The voters also supported a proposal to change town clerk from an elected position to one filled by the town manager, with the assent of the Board of Selectmen. The measure requires the Legislature’s approval as a home-rule petition, and would not take effect until 2016. Officials note that there have been just three people elected as town clerk in the last 79 years, and the intent of the switch is to give the town a more specialized candidate with government experience. Kelly McElreath, who has served as town clerk for the past 12 years and was just reelected to another three-year term, endorsed the change. Town Meeting rejected a plan to join the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project, after a debate that included opponents raising concerns about toxic chemicals used in sprays to kill the insects. Representatives of the regional program told Town Meeting voters that the chemicals are similar to those used by most homeowners.