Made it to the BOF meeting Tuesday evening (4/24). It was at the WES rather than the town hall. Poor turnout.
Woodstock Academy presented first. State of the art presentation. WA Highlights: Current spending per student low compared to other schools at $9425. But the graph was using 04-05 levels. Nonetheless, low compared to the denser population schools. Budgeted enrollment 459 students, a change of 0.44% with a decreasing student to faculty ratio of 14.61(lowest was 14.03 in 96/97. Tuition increasing 4.34% with a total expenditure increase of 2.38% or $287,295.00. Little time for questionsâ€¦BOT meeting.
Next was the WPS budget presented by Lindsey Paul and Dr. Baran. Budget increase proposed at 10.91%. or an increase of $1,542,131.00 . This increase includes a WA tuition increase of 4.99% (a little higher than WA proposed) or $481,776, salary contract increases of $322,478.00. Other increases include new staff salaries, 2 buses, textbooks, SPED, computer , maintenance/repairs, heating. Total budget $15,681,355 minus revenues (state 35.83% + town 64.17%)= $5,618, 762 = net budget $10,062,593.
Next, General Govt. budget. Highlights include: A less impressive presentation. Total budget increase of 10.62% or $537, 840.00. Town counsel fees were taken out of each budget and placed in a separate section. So keep this in mind when evaluating supposed decreases in departmental spending. Total counsel spending was $44,000.00. Some of the increases were due to salary increases, mileage, dues, conferences, fuel, added staff in Finance ($39,530.00), town clerk printing/lever machine $7500.00 , insurance and benefit increase of 7.73% ($48,673), open land aquisition increased from 50K to 250K, Fire protection increased from $117,000 to $123,000, police protection increased 62.41% from $4355 to $7073, highway dpt went up 17.94%!! or $241,514.00 (primarily due to desired purchase of a dump truck, back hoe, and pickup), public health/rec/welfare up very little at 0.64% (but you will be glad to know that dial-a-ride is still alive and well!).
Lastly, the total budget requests for 07/08 is $21,285,247.00 (Ed $15,681,355, Gov $4,520,074, redempt. of debt $1,083,818.00). Cuts needed to meet Prop 46 = $836,919.00.
On a more personal note. The meeting was relatively quiet. No sudden outbursts or finger pointing. One person challenged Ms. Wholeanâ€™s understanding of the process. Couldnâ€™t hear him or understand him though (of course, the same could be said of Ms. Wholean). Mr. Hosmer reminded us that the people of Woodstock are our own worse enemies as it is our fault that the capital improvement did not pass and this is why we are in the mess we are in. One lady in the audience argued that rampant spending and bonding just gives us false comfort and that the burden of debt is passed down to our children. She did advocate for more fire protection spending however. One fellow did ask about the fire protection new apparatus fund which increased from $117,000 to $123,000 (their capital improvement did decrease from $27,600 to $24,500). There was a large turnout of fire protection people and Delpha Very came to their quick defense as well (guess who wants their votes?) . Their answers were sincere however and they have a strong belief that they need this money and that their budget increase is minimal. The same fellow asked about the contingency fund and was there need for this since there could be allowable emergency expenditures under Prop 46. It was explained that the emergency expenditures under Prop 46 could not be claimed until the following year (someone correct me here if I am wrong). Once again, the same brave young fellow also asked about the large land aquisition fund increase. It was claimed that the funds were being replenished because they had been spent this past year and that there is knowledge of more land becoming available. The benefits of aquiring land were discussed appropriately. Surprisingly, there was little asked of the education budget. The audience was rather subdued. Pathetic if you want my opinion. Maybe it was the heat? Everyone was professional and courteous though. Meeting over by 21:30. Let the cutting begin!
Colchester’s $48 million Budget Proposal (Grand List increased 41% after re-eval)
Colchester is approximately twice the student and total population of Woodstock.
2006-07: $13.87 million.
Proposed 2007-08:$14.19 million.
Percentage increase: 2.32%.
Education budget: 4 schools with Bacon Academy (958 2005-06 students) as the public high school, preK-12 3229 students, $9060 spending per pre-K-12 pupil in 2004-2005.
2006-07: $31.9 million.
Proposed 2007-08:$33.8 million.
Current tax rate: 32.47 mills.
Proposed 2006-07 tax rate: 24.5 mills.
Proposed tax rate increase: 1.49 mills.
Major education increases:
Athletic program reinstatements, $50,925.
Major education decreases:
0.2 full-time art teacher,$24,254.
0.2 full-time music teacher, $13,998.
Grade 5 teaching position, $54,962.