Highway Budget Higher in Randolph

Randolph School District will hold a budget information meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 4, at Randolph Elementary School. Most school and town issues will be decided by all-day balloting on Tuesday, March 5, when the polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Randolph Town Hall. Articles 35-47 on the Town Meeting warning and articles I, VI and VII on the school district warning will be addressed at a business meeting starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 5 in Chandler Music Hall.

Randolph — After an eventful 2012, voters and officials here will contend with relatively little business at their annual meetings.

While town and school spending are projected to increase, the tax impact is expected to be relatively modest. There are no contested races for town and school offices, and the item most likely to generate discussion is the town administration’s plan to put $200,000 into a rainy day fund.

“It’s been a good year for the board, a calm year,” said Town Manager Melvin Adams. The town budget and tax rate are stable, he said.

Last year’s Town Meeting ballot featured three Selectboard races in which determined challengers tried and failed to unseat three incumbents in the wake of the board’s December 2011 decision to buy out the contract of Town Manager Gary Champy. The last payment to Champy, who was one of the three unsuccessful challengers for Selectboard last year, falls on March 1, Adams said.

This year, incumbents Trini Brassard, Dennis Brown and Marjorie Ryerson are seeking re-election, while Tom Schersten is seeking a three-year term for the seat being vacated by Jonathan Kaplan, who decided not to run.

The board hired Adams in August for his second stint as town manager. He served from 1999 to 2003 before going to work for the state Agency of Transportation, then to Gov. Jim Douglas’ office, where he managed federal stimulus funding. He came out of retirement to return to Randolph Town Hall.

The nearly $2.5 million general fund budget he and the Selectboard have assembled carries a 6.3 percent increase, and the highway budget of $1.8 million is up by 18 percent. But those increases in spending are offset by grant funding, transfers from other funds and application of undesignated surplus, Adams said.

The projected tax rate to support general and highway operations and appropriations to social service agencies would remain unchanged at just under 73 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The tax rate in Randolph’s police district would increase by a little more than a penny, to 37 cents per $100. The municipal tax on a $200,000 home outside the police district would be $1,460, and inside the district the bill would be $2,200.

The proposed budget of nearly $4.5 million for Randolph Elementary School is $26,000 higher than the current year’s spending. Higher expenses for instruction and administration are offset by a $51,000 reduction in the cost of transportation, achieved by centralizing busing in the Orange Southwest Supervisory Union, which oversees schools in Braintree, Brookfield and Randolph.

The central busing contract is an example of the sort of efficiencies school officials are seeking after voters narrowly rejected a proposal last year to create a consolidated school board for the three towns, according to the annual report from the OSSU school boards.

The residential school tax rate would increase by a little less than three cents, to just under 61 cents per $100.

The total school tax rate, which includes Randolph’s share of expenses at Randolph Union High School and Randolph Technical Career Center, would be just shy of $1.23 per $100.

For a resident of the police district, the total tax rate would amount to $2.33 per $100, which would yield a total tax bill of $4,660 on a home assessed at $200,000. Outside the district, the rate would be $1.96 per $100, and the bill on a $200,000 home would be $3,920.

On the School Board ballot, Anne Black Cone is running unopposed for the high school board, and fellow incumbent L. Brooke Dingledine is running for seats on both the elementary and high school boards.

A second open seat on the elementary school board has drawn no candidates.

Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com or 603-727-3219.