Goffstown committee OKs school's $36.3 million spending
GOFFSTOWN — The budget committee approved the school district's budget, but there's still work to be done on the town side.
At its Dec. 19 meeting, the committee voted to bring the district's $36.3 million budget to a public hearing on Jan. 16, when the district and town budgets will be presented.
During the budgeting process, the committee cut $46,967 from the school board's proposed spending. Before the public hearing, questions will be answered about whether the purchase of locks, security swipe cards, cameras and panic buttons are included in the default budget, which could mean a reduction of about $100,000. The question could not be resolved as Ray Labore, business administrator, was attending a New Boston School Board meeting.
Interim Superintendent Brian Balke said the district has been researching vendors and costs will determine which items are purchased, if approved.
"We'll go as far as we can with the money," he said.
In addition, teacher and support staff contracts are expected to be ratified by Jan. 6, and will be discussed at the Jan. 9 budget committee meeting.
If the proposed budget is approved, the projected local school tax rate would be $15.04, an increase of $1.34 per $1,000 assessed property value over last year's budget, or $335.80 on a $250,000 home. The default budget of $36 million, includes a local school tax rate of $14.80, an increase of $1.10 per $1,000 assessed property value, or $274.86 on a $250,000 home.
On Dec. 18, the committee reviewed the Board of Selectmen's proposed budget line by line, department by department, but were unable to vote on approval until several amounts are finalized, including a 2 percent reduction in benefits, insurance costs, and level funding of the longevity fund.
Selectmen had reduced the town department heads' request for $23.5 million to bring the proposed budget to $20.2 million. The budget committee further reduced the board's proposal but actual amounts have yet to be calculated.
"One of the BOS goals for 2013 was to send to the taxpayers a budget that would not increase the tax rate for 2014. In spite of our best efforts we came up just short. However, the 2014 BOS budget sent on to the budget committee results in a 2014 tax rate of $9.92. This tax rate would be just 20 cents over the 2013 rate, the smallest rate increase in recent memories," said Collis Adams, selectmen chairman, recently.
On Dec. 19, discussion about eliminating $21,000 from the town's administrative merit pay budget sparked some controversy after Adrien "Sonny" Tremblay called to bring the amount to zero. He said the school district's administrative salary pool of $15,000 had been removed and the same policy should be followed on the town side.
Committee chairman Peter Georgantas said the two departments have always been treated differently and objected to the deletion. Merit pay is usually given for promotions and incentives to either contracted or regular town employees, said Susan Desruisseaux, town administrator. Police Chief Patrick Sullivan said he has used the money over the years to reward officers' leadership qualities and those assuming certain shift management duties. The motion received a no vote.
The committee, however, agreed to reduce the town's salt budget by $17,695. Committee member Lee Sperry, of the Public Works Department, said a five-year average of costs was used in the calculations, and the budget was then increased to a seven-year average. He suggested reducing the $152,000 budget because the town has spent between $109,000 to $115,680 over the past two years. The committee voted to reduce the amount to $135,000.
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