$12.3M budget tied to switch in school funding formula; Two towns vote on new method.

Position:LOCAL NEWS
 
FREE EXCERPT

Byline: Paula J. Owen

ASHBURNHAM -Voters will decide on a $12.3 million town budget that includes nearly $420,000 in capital spending at town meeting tomorrow, starting at 10 a.m. in the auditorium at Oakmont Regional High School, 9 Oakmont Drive.

Town Administrator Douglas C. Briggs said the budget was built on the assumption Westminster officials would keep their word to switch to a different method for school funding.

Currently, both Westminster and Ashburnham pay the same amount per student under the regional agreement, and assessments are based on student enrollment and increase proportionately.

However, officials from both towns agreed more than a year ago to have the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School Committee switch to using the "statutory" method for calculating school funding, said Mr. Briggs and Westminster Town Administrator Karen M. Murphy. Westminster officials are now backing down from that position.

The statutory model bases school funding on income levels and property values in a community - the state's aggregate wealth model for calculating school budget assessments.

If both towns vote to abandon the method in the regional agreement and begin using the statutory method, Westminster taxpayers will be on the hook next fiscal year for $365,000 more than Ashburnham taxpayers - reducing Ashburnham's assessment by that amount, said officials.

Mr. Briggs has built the additional money into the town's operating and capital budgets for fiscal 2012, which starts July 1.

Selectmen and the Advisory Board support the $12.3 million budget, which is roughly $210,000 less than the current one and retains all town employees.

Capital spending requests include $12,000 for Town Hall repairs, $10,000 for library improvements, $51,000 for...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP