Board of Finance cuts $1 million

Recommending $1,098,500 in total cuts from the Board of Education and Board of Selectmen’s budget proposals for 2014-15, the Board of Finance has decided to increase local property taxes by 2% next year.

A 26.5179 tax rate was proposed at the Board of Finance’s mill rate meeting on Tuesday night , April 1. The finance board voted on the budget cuts and they, combined with estimated revenue and other spending assumptions, would result in a 2.0328% increase over the current 25.9896 mill rate.

The mill rate is the property tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value, or 70% of market value.

There was a 3.6222% mill rate increase last year, and homeowners with an average residential assessment of $545,315 saw a $513 property tax increase, according to finance board calculations.

With the Board of Finance’s proposed 2% increase, the average homeowner would see a property tax increase of about $288 on July 1.

Education budget

The finance board decided to cut the school board’s proposed $79,151,125 budget by $750,000.

The school board’s original proposal had represented an increase of $3,011,020, or 3.95%, over the previous year.

Salaries account for 59.9% of the total budget, with salary increases for existing staff being the biggest driver at $949,860, a bit less than a third of the 3.95% requested increase.

Special education represents 50% of the total education budget increase.

“Special education increased 8.78% from 2013-14,” Board of Education Chairman Bruce Likly explained at the March 24 public education budget hearing. “The largest part of this is based on outplacement tuition.”

At $616,739, outplacement tuition accounted for about one-fifth of the education board’s proposed 3.95% budget increase.

The Board of Finance’s adjustments to the education budget reflect a 2.97% increase over the previous year, rather than the 3.95% proposed by the education board.

Selectmen’s budget

The Board of Selectmen submitted a $1,280,916 capital budget and a $30,834,351 operating budget. The finance board decided to cut the total $32,115,267 budget by $348,500.

The finance board’s adjustments to the selectmen budget reflect a 2.65% increase over the previous year, rather than the 3.5% increase proposed by the Board of Selectmen.

The Board of Finance had initially allocated $75,000 to be cut from the Board of Selectmen’s operating budget and $273,500 out of its capital budget.

At the end of the meeting, said finance board member Lynne Vanderslice, the Board of Finance decided to let First Selectmen Bill Brennan  make a decision on how much will be cut out of operating and how much will be cut out of capital.

“The total cut of $348,500 isn’t going to change, but where the cuts go in the budget will be Bill’s decision,” said Ms. Vanderslice.

Mr. Brennan will announce the selectmen’s decision on Tuesday, April 22

All the different budget components will also be discussed and voted on during the second mill rate meeting, said Ms. Vanderslice.

“The Board of Finance votes on the budgets piece by piece,” said Ms. Vanderslice. The board plans to vote on many separate budget resolutions on Tuesday, April 22.

Projected debt service for fiscal year 2015 is $9,102,764 — a 0.51% or $47,078 decrease from the current fiscal year.

The Board of Finance voted to increase the $5,956,263 total estimated revenues submitted for 2014-15 by $150,000.

This additional $150,000 would boost the total estimated revenues to $6,106,263, creating a 12.58% or $682,121 increase over the current year total of $5,424,142.

The board also proposed a required operating funds total of $114,357,099.56 — an approximate increase of $2,382,600 or 2.13% from this year’s budget of  $111,975,500.

The finance board’s recommendations go to voters May 6 at the annual town meeting and ensuing referendum on May 10.