WLC budget amended up by $81,000

  • Fran Bujak motions to make an amendment to increase the district's proposed budget by $81,000 during Saturday's Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative’s annual district meeting. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Budget Committee member Lisa Post defends the district’s proposed budget during discussion on an amendment to the budget. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Matthew Black speaks in support of a proposed amendment to the budget during Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District’s annual meeting.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • School Board member Jonathan Vanderhoof casts his vote on a proposed amendment to the district’s budget, under the eye of School District Moderator Walter Holland during the district’s annual meeting on Saturday.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Wilton Selectwoman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault casts her vote on a proposed amendment to the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District budget on Saturday, during the district’s annual meeting.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Mark Chamberlain of Lyndeborough speaks on a proposed amendment to the budget during Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative’s annual meeting.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/9/2019 3:08:26 PM

Voters at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District’s annual meeting voted to increase the proposed budget by $81,000, to bring the number closer to what had been originally proposed by district officials.

The bulk of the two-hour meeting on Saturday revolved around the district’s budget. As originally proposed, the budget was $12.6 million. That number represents about a $129,000, or 1.03 percent increase over last year’s budget.

The budget proposal represented last year’s budget, plus contractual increases approved at previous district meetings, and food service costs.

However, while the proposed budget was higher than the previous years, it was about $163,000 less than the initial budget request made by school officials. Both the School Board and Budget Committee were split on whether or not to recommend the budget, with both boards ultimately voting 5-4 in favor of recommending the budget.

Resident Fran Bujak said he disliked that approach to budget management.

“That number rejects every request made by the professionals that run our district,” he said.

Bujak was also uncomfortable with the fact that neither the Budget Committee nor the School Board was willing to specify which of the items from the district’s proposed budget would be eliminated to meet the budget number. He’d never been in a situation where he was forced to vote on a budget, “with no idea what is actually going to be cut,” he said.

Bujak quizzed the School Board and Budget Committee about several line items, including how the district would absorb increases in costs such as electricity, heat and utilities. He then proposed a motion to amend the budget to increase it by $81,000, which he said absorbed the increases in some cost items the district didn’t have control over and accounted for about half of the gap between the board’s proposed budget and the district officials.

School District Moderator Walter Holland initially called for a voice vote on the issue, and one was taken, though it was too close to tell which side had a majority. However, as Holland began asking for a hand-count vote, Wilton’s Town Moderator Bill Keefe raised a point of order, noting that Holland had not called for discussion on the amendment.

Mark Chamberlain of Lyndeborough spoke against the amendment, saying there were a large number of residents in Lyndeborough on fixed incomes for whom the tax burden was already too high.

“I would not be in favor of increasing the budget any more than it is,” he said.

Matthew Black of Wilton said if Bujak had not offered an amendment, he would have, with a similar “compromise” number.

“This did not appear to be an extravagant budget,” Black said. “It appeared to be holding the line.”

David Roemer of Lyndeborough pointed out the district typically has between $150,000 and $200,000 in unspent funds at the end of the school year, which could be used for emergency needs. He said the fact both boards had split votes on the budget suggested it was a good compromise.

“I think this is a perfect budget,” Roemer said of the proposed budget on the warrant. “Not everyone is happy with it, but both boards were able to pass it.”

During the discussion, a request was made by eight district residents to vote on the amendment by secret ballot. Voters adopted Bujak’s amendment, 52-46.

There was little further discussion on the budget after the amendment was adopted, and the voting body passed the budget, 72-27, also with a secret ballot vote.

There was only one other item on the warrant this year, to raise and appropriate $60,000 to be added to the district’s building/equipment and roadway capital reserve fund.

The fund will be used this year to do repair work on the chimneys at Florence Rideout Elementary School, complete the next phase of roof replacement at the middle/high school and to do renovations to the bathrooms at the middle/high school. The article passed in a voice vote by a large majority.

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


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