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January 15, 2014

Citizens to have their say

Warrants will include citizen petition requests

Some Town Meeting warrants are going to be packed with citizen petition articles in March.

Atkinson’s warrant will have 10 such articles, five of them submitted just minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline yesterday.

Residents filed a petition Monday to keep the police chief’s position part time. That’s in opposition to selectmen’s plans. The board is seeking $78,000 for the position this year, which is now a part-time job.

The Atkinson Budget Committee opposes the move, too.

According to the petition, which was started by Brian Boyle, selectmen would have to keep the position part time for at least 36 months.

Resident Paul DiMaggio submitted two articles designed to help residents cope with contaminated wells.

One calls for $157,000 to install water lines on Oakridge Drive and Deer Run Road.

The second calls for $160,000 to help individual homeowners with connections should the federal government fail to help them get public water.

DiMaggio said he collected 83 signatures on the petitions.

Atkinson Town Clerk Rose Cavalear said she received five additional articles, just 10 minutes before yesterday’s deadline. The signatures have not been approved by Cavalear and the supervisors of the checklist.

Those last-minute petitions include increasing the number of selectmen from three to five, a three- to five-year financial audit of the town, and requiring any contract for $5,000 or more to go up for competitive bid.

In Salem, nine citizen petitions were filed — all on the town side.

While most were funding requests from social service organizations, one filed by SalemFest organizer Betty Gay seeks permission for nonprofit organizations to place signs in town rights of way. Gay has criticized selectmen’s efforts to regulate signs advertising festivals, craft fairs and other special events.

Another petition article asks that “big money be taken out of politics,” Town Manager Keith Hickey said. It would be nonbinding if passed, he said.

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