5% tax hike possible as Yarmouth school budget talks begin

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

YARMOUTH — The School Committee begins working this week on a projected $20.1 million school budget that could produce a 5 percent tax increase.

The board is expected to determine the financial feasibility of all-day kindergarten and work to find solutions to an expected loss of revenue.

At a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 26, Superintendent Judy Paolucci is expected to present a draft budget that considers no additional programs and no loss of programs.

But, due to additional losses of revenue, reduced state subsidy, and a reduction in the value of the Wyman Station power plant, a 1.5 percent increase in expenditures in the fiscal year 2013 budget could mean a 3.5 percent increase in taxes, Paolucci said.

The budget estimates are based on projections of the municipal budget, she said.

Additionally, if full-day kindergarten its determined to be viable, Paolucci said the budget would add $350,000 in expenses, and taxpayers could face a nearly 5 percent increase.

“We’ve been working to maintain a great school system while responding to the needs of the taxpayers,” she said. “These figures are all preliminary, and we will continue to work on the budget over the next few months.”

Full-day K will first be discussed at the committee level. The next step would include public input. 

“Answering the question, ‘Is it fiscally feasible at this time?’ before answering the question, ‘Do we want this program in our community?’ is the responsible thing to do,” Paolucci said. “When we answer these questions, then we can move forward with budget discussions.”

Other obstacles facing the budget deliberators include a discontinuation of federal funds that has resulted in a revenue deficit, Paolucci said.

The district anticipated the loss of $540,000 in federal funds and set aside the prior year’s fund balances as a tax stability reserve account, she said. The remaining $126,500 in the account will be applied to the 2013 budget, reducing the tax allocation requested.

The district also deferred the use of $533,000 in Federal Jobs Bill funds to the 2011-2012 fiscal year instead of using it in 2010-2011 school year.

“Tightening our belt for a time rather than using federal funds to increase expenditures, was the prudent thing to do,” she said. “Eventually, however, whether in the 2011-2012 budget or the 2012-2013 budget, we would have to see an end to these federal funds.”

Paolucci also said this is the last year the district will pay on the middle school bond, and the amount of funds the School Department needs for debt service in 2012-2013 will be approximately $450,000 less than in the current fiscal year. The reduction in debt service and the funds in the tax stability reserve account balance out the loss of $540,000 in federal funds.

Paolucci encouraged the public to attend any of the budget sessions starting with the meeting on Thursday, Jan. 26. There will be workshops on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Rowe School.

The School Committee will adopt a budget on Thursday, March 8, at 7 p.m. at the Log Cabin on Main Street.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson

0