July 18, 2019

Glenburn plans special meeting > Funding uncertainty stalls school budget

GLENBURN — The Town Council will hold a special meeting Thursday in an effort to complete the proposed $5.4 million town-school budget.

Town Manager Peter Chase said that while last week’s budget hearing elicited lengthy and valuable public comment, the council did not vote to send the proposed budget to voters.

Citing an uncertainty with the level of state funding for local education, Chase said the council — with a little help from state lawmakers — hoped to complete the warrant at Thursday’s meeting

“We’re just going to pray that the Legislature does something next week,” said Chase, who added that the council must approve and post the warrant by June 1 in order to hold its annual meeting June 8.

If the state education figures are unavailable, Chase said, the council might look to stray from the town charter and postpone the town meeting.

The $1.03 million municipal budget is up 1.7 percent from last year’s $1.01 million. The town budget will require a local contribution of $349,979, up about 1.8 percent from last year.

While the town budget remained unchanged as of Sunday, the final figure for the local share of the school budget remained a mystery.

Latest estimates suggest the school budget will total $4.4 million, up about 6 percent from last year, according to school officials.

Those latest figures, combined with the muncipal budget increase, also suggest that the estimated $2 million to be contributed by local property owners will cause the tax rate to rise from $16.50 per $1,000 of property valuation to $17.10 per $1,000 of property valuation, Chase said.

The amount requested by the school committee has steadily decreased since last week, as committee members cut an additional $71,000 in an effort to keep the local tax increase to under $1 per $1,000 in property valuation, according to Superintendent of Schools Ray Freve. Freve said if the state were to come through with an anticipated $140,000 increase in educational funding to the town, the burden on local taxpayers would rise only 3.2 percent, or less than 50 cents per $1,000 in property valuation.

Thursday’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

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