December 13, 2019

Greenville residents: Fix school restrooms

GREENVILLE – In a rather unusual move during the annual school budget meeting Monday, residents added $50,000 to the spending plan and targeted those funds for replacement of the 75-year-old restrooms on the first floor of Greenville High School.

In making the recommendation, resident Kyle Pelletier said the restrooms are “in miserable shape, absolutely.” A member of the school’s building committee, Pelletier said there have been discussions about moving elementary pupils from the Nickerson school into the high school to consolidate and to close the Nickerson school, but much work has to be completed before that can occur.

Resident Woody Bartley said regardless of whether the consolidation is done, it’s critical to replace the restrooms. Of all the maintenance that has been deferred over the years, this is the most pressing, he said.

While the school has about $750,000 in trust funds, only the Louis Oakes fund of about $135,000 could be used to help renovation efforts since the remainder have specific uses, according to Superintendent Heather Perry. Typically the Oakes fund is used for emergencies, she said.

As for the budget, Perry said school expenditures are down by $100,000 despite rising energy costs. The committee also used $500,000 in unanticipated surplus to offset revenue losses, a move, she warned, that may not be possible in future years because the surplus may not be there in the wake of rising costs.

In the end, residents voted to raise the $1,633,395 required to get the $125,000 in state subsidy, and they voted to raise $678,929 in additional local funds needed to operate the schools. The state subsidy amounts to 3 percent of the total budget for the operation of the Greenville schools, according to Perry.

A referendum question to validate this week’s vote on the budget will be held on June 10.

The school budget, along with the passage of the municipal budget later that night, is expected to increase the mill rate from $10.60 to $11.33 per $1,000 property valuation, according to Town Manager John Simko. If the additional $50,000 approved for the school budget is raised through donations or grants rather than property taxes and the state valuation remained the same, the rate would be $11.18 per $1,000 property valuation.

An increase of $22,972 in the police protection account prompted resident Janet Chasse to question the need. “I don’t see how we can justify an increase,” she said, adding the town hadn’t changed that much.

Simko said the town has an experienced crew and has seen much improvement in the quality of the Police Department and its work. What has changed, he said, is the market for law enforcement. He said qualified police officers are being sought throughout the country.

“The scarcity [of police officers] is driving up the costs,” Simko said.

In addition to supporting the Police Department’s request, residents also gave the Fire Department approval to sell its cobbled-together 1989 tanker firetruck and to borrow up to $200,000 to purchase a new water tanker truck.


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