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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Proposals to amend district budget fail

MONT VERNON – Residents at Monday night’s School District Deliberative Session defeated a pair of amendments aimed at reducing the district’s proposed $4.73 million operating budget, thereby sending the package as-is to voters on March 8.

The Deliberative Session, which ran roughly an hour and a half and drew about 100 residents to the Village School, was the district’s first under the so-called secret ballot, or SB2, format, which voters adopted last year.

Aside from the election for School District offices, the budget is the only article on this year’s warrant.

The budget represents a roughly $74,000, or 1.6 percent, increase over the current budget. Should the budget be voted down, a default budget of just under $4.7 million – $28,500 less than the proposed budget – would take effect.

If the proposed budget passes, the combination of revenue shortfall and proposed additions would increase property taxes by $1.40 per $1,000 valuation, meaning taxes would rise $280 per year on a home assessed at $200,000; $420 on a home assessed at $300,000; and $560 on a $400,000 home.

The School Board recommended voters pass the budget.

Resident Tom McKinney proposed the first amendment, which called for cutting the overall budget by $200,000, a move he said was necessary because continual tax increases have begun to drive residents into foreclosure and in some cases, out of town.

McKinney requested, and was granted, a secret-ballot vote on the amendment, which residents defeated, 54-36.

A second amendment, proposed by Budget Committee Chairman Will Archibald Jr., also failed, but by a closer 46-41 margin. It called for a less-drastic, $30,000 reduction in the budget – an amount he said would allow the budget committee to reverse its original stance and recommend the budget to voters.

School Board Chair Kim Roberge did have what might turn out to be great news for Mont Vernon taxpayers, telling residents that state legislators are currently revisiting the state education adequacy formula, which, as it stands now, forces a crippling $143,000 cut in Mont Vernon’s share of state aid to education.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 31, or