Residents request greater clarity on WLC budget impacts

  • Residents speak at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Budget Hearing on Thursday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Residents speak at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Budget Hearing on Thursday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Residents speak at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Budget Hearing on Thursday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Residents speak at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Budget Hearing on Thursday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/8/2019 4:20:39 PM

Residents attending the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District budget hearing Thursday told the Budget Committee they wanted more information on the impact the budget would have on the schools.

The Budget Committee is proposing a budget of $12.6 million budget. Though it is about a 1.03 increase from last year’s budget, it is about $163,000 lower than the request put forth by the district’s administrators. Several residents in the audience pressed the Budget Committee to explain what the impact the difference would mean for the district.

Budget Committee Chair Leslie Browne said the Budget Committee only comes up with the bottom line number, and it’s the School Board’s decision on how to spend it. The number was arrived at by using last year’s number, plus contracted increases she, said. Several members of the board also noted that in past years, the district has had unexpended funds at the end of the year, usually between $100,000 to $200,000, and if the district was careful, it may be able to get everything in its proposed budget.

“We may just need to tighten the belt a little more,” Browne said.

“I have 100 percent confidence in this budget, that they will have everything they need,” Budget Committee member Kevin Boette said.

The School Board did vote to support the Budget Committee’s proposed budget, but in a vote split nearly down the middle.

Several residents disliked the notion of going to the polls without a clear sense of how the budget would be spent, and what impacts it might have.

Wilton resident Matthew Black questioned whether the current staffing levels would be kept under the Budget Committee’s proposal.

Browne repeated that how to allocate the budget was the purview of the School Board but said in the past staffing has been a priority for the School Board. She added she doubted any staff cuts would occur.

Black pointed out there had been increases in costs such as utilities, educational programs and contributions to staff retirement, and decreases in state and federal funding, but the Budget Committee’s proposal didn’t account for that, and the money had to be made up somewhere.

Browne replied that there had also been decreases in other expense lines, including medical insurance, special education transport and computer equipment helping to bridge that gap.

“I don’t think anyone is comfortable voting on a budget not knowing the impact on the schools,” Adam Lavalee of Lyndeborough told the board. “I don’t understand how the towns can make an educated vote when no one is able to give us the details.”

Budget Committee member Lisa Post said in previous years, the Budget Committee has put forth suggestions for specific cuts from the administration’s budget, but it was poorly received by the School Board. This year, the Budget Committee left the matter in the School Board’s hands.

Residents made no comment on the other article on the warrant, including a request for $60,000 to be added to the school’s building/equipment and roadway capital reserve. Browne told the crowd the funds were earmarked for continuing to repair the roof at the middle/high school, updating the bathrooms at the high school and repointing the chimneys at Florence Rideout Elementary School.

If both articles pass, there would be a tax increase of 33 cents per $1,000 of value in Lyndeborough and an increase of 36 cents per $1,000 in Wilton.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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