Board of Ed says budget won’t pierce tax cap

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If the Board of Education had to put its budget to a vote this week, it would take $$965,460 from its reserve funds to avoid going above the state-mandated tax cap with its draft budget of $12.208 million.

Board members Monday night opted instead to seek spending cuts that would reduce money needed from the fund balance. The current school year budget was balanced with $770,000 from the fund balance and the board is hoping to move to a number near that for the 2019-20 budget. On April 1, the board will be back looking for further cuts.

It’s anticipated that grant money will cover some expenditures, but that can create cash flow issues, since the district must spend the money before being reimbursed.

Board members said Monday night that there’s no expectation the tax cap would be pierced this year.

What that means to taxpayers is that an owner of property valued at $500,000 could expect to see the tax bill go up by $35.70 or 2.4 percent. The same percentage would apply to owners of properties valued at $850,000 or $1 million. Those whose property is valued at $850,000 could expect a $61 increase, and the bill would be $71 more for those with property valued at $1 million.

One major item was cut from the budget Monday night — purchase of a 20-seat minibus.

Once board members began calculating related costs to operating a bus it owned, it took little time to realize that what had originally been viewed as a possible $40,000 savings wouldn’t materialize.

Also, operating its own bus would pose a number of issues of ongoing costs and the use of personnel.

The board will resume its expense-cutting efforts on April 1 at a 6 p.m. meeting, with plans to adopt a budget proposal on April 16.

A formal budget hearing is slated for May 13, but once the budget proposal is approved by the board in April, it will be too late to change the numbers.

Voting on the budget takes place May 21 between noon and 9 p.m.

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