SALEM — A bridge reconstruction bond and new water meters are two of the issues on the town warrant to be discussed at a deliberative session Saturday.

Voters can amend the articles, which will appear on the official ballot March 9. Other articles will be discussed and voted on at the town's second deliberative session, March 19.

Selectmen are seeking approval of a $1.4 million bond to replace two bridges over Widow Harris Brook, one on North Main Street and another on Emerson Way. The bond requires a two-thirds majority vote for approval. The project is eligible for an 80 percent reimbursement from the state bridge program.

Residents also will consider taking a loan from the state revolving fund for $2.3 million to replace the town's water meters. The new meters would be automated.

The state has directed the town to update its water meters because of discrepancies between the amount of water used in town and the amount that is paid for it. Half the principal of the loan could be forgiven with federal stimulus funds. If the loan, which has an interest rate of 1.8 percent, fails, the town will ask voters at the second deliberative session to consider paying for the project with cash. The loan requires two-thirds approval.

The town's proposed $33.4 million operating budget also will be considered at the meeting.

A petition article asks the town to establish a property tax exemption for the disabled, something selectmen have said they do not support.

The town has tax exemptions for veterans, the elderly and the blind that cost the town $900,000 a year. Finance director Jane Savastano said there was no calculation of how much money the proposed exemption would cost, because the town did not have a count of how many residents would qualify.

The deliberative session begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Salem High School.


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