Thursday, April 4, 2013

Weston finance board votes tonight on budget | The Weston Forum

budget_calculatorThe Weston Board of Finance? is scheduled to make a decision tonight, Thursday, April 4, on the final town, school, and capital budgets to send to the public for a vote.

The finance board meets at 8 p.m. in the Meeting Room at town hall.

A public hearing on the budget proposals was held Wednesday, April 3. Coverage of that meeting, as well as of the finance baord?s deliberation meeting, will be in next week?s April 11 edition of The Weston Forum.

On the table are a town operating budget of $11,690,441 (a 3.32% increase over the current year), a $46.29-million school budget (a 1.55% increase), and a combined $1,128,728 town and school capital budget (a 30.2% decrease).

The Board of Selectmen approved the town, capital, and debt service requests and recommended a $100,000 reduction to the school budget request. The selectmen?s school budget recommendation puts it at a 1.31% increase from the current operating budget.

More school reductions

However, the school board met last week, on Thursday, March 28, and discussed making even more reductions to its already-approved budget request. As a result, the school board is expected to ask the finance board for an even lower school budget: $45,765,418 ? $528,250 less than originally requested, and $178,226 more than the current budget. The new request is a 0.39% increase from the current budget.

A press release from the school district said, ?This lower budget was based on aggressive re-bidding of the employee health benefits and several other cost saving strategies? since the school board voted on its budget proposal.

When it voted Feb. 1, the district was estimating the cost for health insurance because insurance bids had not yet come back. The bid results, however, led the schools to change carriers, resulting in a $438,307 savings.

Other changes that have occurred since Feb. 1 and their corresponding savings include:

? An additional retirement ($44,576).

? Reduction of a full-time teaching position to a 0.6 full-time equivalent, or FTE, ($24,730).

? A change in the technology lease ($15,294).

? Received quote on liability, auto, and property insurance ($5,343).

Finance board authority

The finance board has the authority to reduce or increase the town and/or the school budgets, but it has line item control only over the town budget; it is up to the school district to decide how the money ultimately approved is spent.

The amounts approved will go before voters at the Annual Town Budget Meeting (ATBM), set for Wednesday, April 24, at 8 p.m. in the Weston High School auditorium.

According to the new town charter, the budgets may not be increased by the ATBM. Also, a minimum of 2% of all the town?s qualified voters must be present at the ATBM in order to reduce any portion of the budget; if that quorum exists, reductions must be approved by a majority present at the ATBM.

The budgets approved at the ATBM go to a machine referendum vote for final approval.

Machine votes may be cast at the high school immediately following the ATBM, as well as the following Thursday, May 2, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Weston Middle School gymnasium.


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