Claremont Trims School Budget

Claremont — The school administration’s budget proposal has been trimmed by another $75,000, bringing the general fund budget to $29.3 million, an increase of 2.65 percent over this year.

At last night’s School Board meeting, SAU 6 Business Manager Tim Ball said $50,000 was taken from out-of-district special education for Stevens High School and another $25,000 was removed from the budget and added to a separate warrant article for technology upgrades.

The board agreed to delay a vote on the budget and final adoption of the warrant until Wednesday. The warrant must be posted by Jan. 28 for the Feb. 6 deliberative session.

As it now stands, the budget would increase the local school tax rate 29 cents. Combined with a projected 22-cent increase in the state education rate, the overall increase from the budget would be 51 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The total budget of $32.15 million is only $6,000 higher than the current year’s budget, but that is due to a decrease in grants and food service, neither of which affect the tax rate.

Six other warrant articles would add another 55 cents to the estimated tax rate for a total increase of $1.06 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which would add $159 in annual taxes to a $150,000 property.

The first year payment on a proposed 20-year, $12.5 million bond to renovate Stevens High School accounts for 30 cents of the tax rate increase. Ball said after the first year, the tax rate would change depending on how the bond repayment is structured. Under what he called “level-debt,” the rate would rise to $1.08 in the second year and remain there over the life of the bond. With “level principal,” the second year tax impact would be $1.29 and steadily decrease over 19 years to 80 cents in the final year.

Ball also noted that in two years, the district will finish paying off another bond that has a 50-cent tax impact.

The Stevens bond total may change after the board has its weekly meeting with Banwell Architects tomorrow, board chairman Richard Seaman said.

“We are trying to keep it (tax impact) to the lowest level with the highest value,” Seaman said.

The other warrant articles that affect the tax rate include three contracts for secretaries, maintenance and transportation employees and paraprofessionals, a lease purchase agreement for two school buses and new instructional technology.

The $32.11 million default budget, which would be implemented if the proposed budget fails, would add about 46 cents to the school tax rate, which is currently $18.45 per $1,000.

The three-year terms for Seaman and Charlene Lovett are up for re-election in March. The filing period for anyone interested in running begins Jan. 23 and ends Feb. 1. Residents can file to run at the SAU office in the Dow Building on Broad Street.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.