Lebanon School Board finalizes warrant articles, including round 4 with renovation funding

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 1/28/2022 9:29:11 PM
Modified: 1/29/2022 1:26:23 PM

LEBANON — The School Board voted Wednesday to finalize warrant articles that will appear on the ballot at the city elections in March, including a scaled-back proposal to fund renovations that board members sought in three of the previous four elections.

The $14.34 million bond would finance projects at Hanover Street School and Lebanon High School, as well as raise $358,525 in taxes for first-year debt service payments on the bond.

“The longer we put (the renovation project) off, the more it costs,” board member Lilian Maughan said. “It behooves us to think long-term and make the much-needed renovations … because I do think that the children deserve it at this point.”

The first year of the bond in Article 2 would have an impact of 16 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $48 on a $300,000 home, according to district business administrator Tim Ball. The article requires a 60% threshold to pass, whereas others require a majority vote only — previous efforts to fund school renovations have failed to reach the 60% threshold.

The School Board voted, 8-1, to recommend the article, with chairman Richard Milius the only no vote.

“It’s no question that the work has to be done; it’s just a question of timing,” Milius said, also expressing his concern that the renovation project’s lack of plans to expand classroom space could prove problematic if the school sees an influx of students in the future.

Another topic returning to the ballot is the school resource officer, inserted by petition.

Residents’ decision will be nonbinding, like a similar vote last year, when a slim 1,011-1,006 margin urged the board to discontinue the program. Board members later opted to continue funding the position, whose cost is split down the middle with the city, in a 5-4 vote.

Also up for a vote is a proposed yearly operating budget of just over $48 million; the default budget will remain at almost $47.5 million if the article is defeated. The proposed budget would have a tax impact of 67 cents per $1,000, or $201 for a home valued at $300,000. The board voted unanimously to approve the article.

Residents will also decide on costs in the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the Lebanon Education Association. Money will go toward increasing salaries and benefits, with a tax impact of 30 cents per $1,000 for the first year, or $90 on a $300,000 home.

The School Board voted, 8-1, to recommend the article, again with Milius dissenting.

“There’s no question that the teachers deserve it; I just feel that the taxpayers can’t afford it,” Milius said, noting that taxes would also increase due to the new operating budget and bond.

Other articles include shifting up to $600,000 into the district’s capital reserve fund for renovations. The money would be raised from surplus at the end of the fiscal year, not through taxation. The School Board voted unanimously to approve the article.

Ball noted in the meeting that the fund is “just about out” and may soon be empty without an infusion of money, and Milius concurred.

“I think it’s critically important to keep this fund as healthy as we possibly can,” he said.

Elections for officials appearing on the ballot include three School Board seats, as well as a clerk, treasurer and moderator for the district.

The deliberative session of the annual meeting will be held Feb. 5 at 9 a.m. in the Hanover Street School gym. Official ballot voting will take place March 8.

Lauren Adler can be reached at LAdler19@gmail.com.




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