Budget Committee Makes Recommendations on School Articles

The Budget Committee voted Thursday, Jan. 23, on whether to recommend a yes or no vote on the School District Warrant Articles as follows:

Article 2: $4 million bond for renovations to school district buildings, estimated tax impact of $0.02, Yes to recommend, unanimously

Article 3: To accept the proposed general fund operating budget of $66,240,583, with estimated tax impact of $12.66, or the default budget of $66,545,528, with tax impact of $12.75. Yes, unanimously.

Article 4: Approval of cost items associated with the collective bargaining agreement with the Londonderry custodians, AFSCME (American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees) Local 1801, which represents the annual increase in salaries and benefits over those paid in the current fiscal year at $56,570 for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, $57,984 for 2015-16, and $59,433 for 2016-17. Tax impacts are FY 2014/15, $0.02; FY 2015/16, $0.02; and FY 2016/17, $0.02.

Budget Committee member William Mee said he thinks the CPI (Consumer Price Index) was set too high. “I have an issue with the agreement,” he said. “The floor of the agreement CPI is 2.5 percent, and I did a little research and the CPI has averaged 2.06. For the last eight years, the CPI has been 2.14, and the past 13 years has been 2.28. I just think that the floor of the agreement is incorrect and perhaps we’re paying additional CPI funds that are not necessary.”

School District Business Administrator Peter Curro said the amount was based on a CPI with a floor and a ceiling. Mee said the ceiling was hit twice, the last time in 1980.

Chairman Chris Melcher voted yes on recommending the agreement, with five opposed and Gary Vermillion abstaining.

Article 5: Approval of the cost items associated with the collective bargaining agreement with the Londonderry support staff, AFSCME Local 1801, which is $110,309 for the 2014-2015 fiscal year and represents the annual increase in salaries and benefits over those paid in the current fiscal year. FY 2014-2015 tax impact is $0.03, FY 2015- 2016 cost is $113,067 with a tax impact of $0.03, and FY 2016-2017 cost is $115,894 with a tax impact of $0.03.

Mee gave the same reasons for Article 5 as he did for Article 4 in arguing against recommending it. The committee voted 3-3-1. The yes votes were Melcher, Ted Combes and Mark Aronson; the no votes were Tom Dalton, Dan Lekas, and Mee. Vermillion abstained.

Article 6: Authorizes the school district to call a special meeting if either one of the previous two articles fail.

The Committee voted unanimously to recommend a Yes vote.

Article 7: Asks if voters will accept federal grants and other funds to support the school lunch program. There is no tax impact. The Committee voted unanimously for a Yes vote.

Article 8: Asks voters to raise $500,000 for the School Building Expendable Trust Fund. Tax impact is $0.14.

Curro said to keep in mind that the first year of the bond, the payment is $65,000, which is the interest payment. “It’s the second year where we pay the principal and the interest,” Curro said.

Curro said that as the bond payments go down over time, the Maintenance Trust amount would go up.

Curro said they would use a rolling three to five year average and have between $750,000 and $850,000 in the Maintenance Trust Fund so that when big projects come up, they have the money in the account to address them.

Melcher asked how the Moose Hill roof could have failed in just 12 years and Curro said it hadn’t failed but was out of warranty. By having it overcoated, an additional 10-year warranty would be realized.

“If we wait two more years, the warranty would lapse and we could end up doing a reconstruction, which would cost more. This is an opportunity to get 10 more years out of it at minimal cost,” Curro said.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend a Yes vote.

Article 9: Asks if voters wish to raise $100,000 for the Equipment Capital Reserve Fund. Tax impact is $0.03.

The Committee voted unanimously to recommend a Yes vote.

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