Vassalboro town school officials work to lower school budget


by Mary Grow

Vassalboro town and school and AOS (Alternative Organizational Structure) #92 officials are working to bring down the 2018-19 municipal and school budgets to avert a large tax increase.

Budget committee members talked about both school and municipal budget requests at their April 5 meeting, which followed a short selectmen’s meeting. They had future meetings scheduled and therefore made no formal recommendations.

The current tax rate, Town Manager Mary Sabins said, is 14.5 mils, or $14.50 for each $1,000 of valuation. The preliminary budgets as of April 5 – which everyone emphasized are subject to change – would require a 2018-19 rate of 16.22 mils, or $16.22 for each $1,000 of valuation.

To reduce the new rate to 15.22 mils would require cutting 2018-19 expenditures by around $300,000, Sabins said.

At their previous meeting with the school board, budget committee members learned of $63,000 in savings on insurance costs that had not been figured in the school budget. They hope for additional education savings.

Sabins’ calculations did include an increase in state revenue sharing, bringing that source of non-local-tax income to $170,000 instead of the $160,000 she had expected. Going through the municipal budget and considering a variety of options, budget committee members came up with about $86,000 in cuts they might recommend.

One proposal discussed was to eliminate Police Chief Mark Brown’s position and rely entirely on the State Police and Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office for police coverage. The rationale was not dissatisfaction with Brown, but the possibility of saving more than $27,000, plus the cost of a new police car in the fairly near future. Sabins warned part of the savings might be offset by the need to pay Brown unemployment compensation.

Other items that might be proposed for reduction when the committee makes its formal recommendations include several public works department requests and the increase requested by Vassalboro First Responders.

After an April 10 meeting with the school board, the budget committee was scheduled to hold its final meeting to make recommendations at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the town office. A week later, selectmen are scheduled to review the draft warrant for the June 4 annual town meeting, where voters will make final spending decisions.

At the short April 5 selectmen’s meeting preceding the budget committee meeting, selectmen unanimously approved new contracts with Sabins and with alewife harvester Ronald Weeks.


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