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Marblehead salutes Sasso, approves $70.7M budget

MARBLEHEAD – Voters were on the way to approving a balanced $70.7 million town budget for Fiscal Year 2013 Monday night after giving a prolonged standing ovation to departing Town Administrator Tony Sasso.Selectmen Chairman Jackie Belf-Becker, Selectman Judy Jacobi, School Committee Chairman EuRim Chun, Town Moderator Gary Spiess and Finance Committee Vice Chairman Moses Grader praised Sasso for his 18 years of service. “He was instrumental in setting the town on (its current) fiscal path,” Grader said.The town approved Sasso’s negotiated three-year contracts with the police, fire and municipal employees, who are scheduled to receive 2 percent raises on July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013, a 1 percent raise on July 1, 2014 and a 1/2-percent raise June 30, 2015.Sasso noted that he and the unions engineered a healthy insurance change that will save the town $2 million and avert a Fiscal 2014 deficit. Asked the net savings after raises are factored in, Sasso said “$756,187.”Other employees who will receive a 2 percent raise next year include the administrators, traffic supervisors, seasonal and temporary employees, and Town Clerk Robin Michaud, who are all non-union.The voters also approved the Water and Sewer Commission’s proposed three-year, $4.9 million downtown drainage plan, 576-10. The plan includes $2.9 million in Fiscal Year 2013, $800,000 in Fiscal Year 2014 and $1.2 million in Fiscal Year 2015, and is designed to end flooding in the area.John Buba asked selectmen to prioritize this year’s capital expenditures, without success. Barbara Anderson asked if the work could have been done as regular maintenance. Sasso said the project before them was reconstruction and could not be accomplished by the town’s $300,000-a-year drain maintenance budget.”It’s a worthy project,” Sasso said. Residents in the flood area discussed their problems and former Selectman William Woodfin called the project “the kind of thing that makes a community a community.”

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