The Barrington FTM
Bottom line: An approximately 850,000 dollar school budget increase, over what the appropriations committee recommended, passes by a vote of 569-323.
Good evening from the town of Barrington. Voting on several budget resolutions is about to begin…
Two non-controversial “housekeeping” items have so far passed.
300,000 from an unbuilt wind turbine was just moved to the general fund.
Next vote: 3 million to remediate and cap the town’s landfills. Resident wants to know if it has to be done this year. Another resident: Is there a real economic benefit to doing this this year? TM believes delay would create financial hardship.
First voice vote tie occurs. Landfill money passes on a stand-up vote.
A million dollars for school roofs passes almost unanimously on a voice vote.
Another million for sidewalk repair passes easily on a voice vote.
Next item: “emergency notes to fund emergency appropriations”. Resident wants to know what constitutes an emergency. TM says if we could predict emergencies, we wouldn’t have them. Resident not amused by that answer. TM gives example of a sewer that exploded recently. Another official points out a formal procedure for declaring an emergency is contained in the resolution.
Resident proposes a 5 million dollar cap on the emergency note amount. Voice vote tie; amendment fails on a stand-up vote. Overall emergency note item passes on a voice vote.
Resident requests an explanation of the next item, tax-anticipation notes. Finance director explains they are used to cover gaps that occur because of the collection schedule. Also adds that they’ve never been used. Item passes on a voice vote.
Here comes the school budget. Appropriations Commitee is recommending a 2.21% increase, about 900,000 dollars. That’s about half of what the school’s management requested. Appropriations Committee hopes that the school system and the teachers union will be able to “renegotiate” a salary structure that will fit into the budget.
Residents now get to offer motions to change the bottom line.
First motion by resident: increase the budget by about 850,000, none of it to go to administrators. Praise for the Barrington schools from the resident and from a school committee member. Another resident objects, citing step increase + annual raises that exceed 5% or more.
Some detailed discussion about specific line items regarding supplies, aides and bus monitors.
Another resident is proud of the Barrington schools, but doesn’t believe that the system is so fragile that it cannot survive one year of belt-tightening.
Senator David Bates says that the state is down 70 million for this year alone, based on the May revenue estimating conference. That could impact how much money is received from the state.
Resident asks for examples of belt-tightening that have already occurred. 4 positions were elimated last year.
Resident reads a letter from a retired school teacher, who thinks that the union should negotiate a freeze to get through this budget year, without the additional budget increase.
Resident discusses the macro global economic situation; with social security frozen and 401(k)s tanking, it’s not fair to ask taxpayers to fund other people’s pay increase.
Resident speaks in favor of increase — Barrington should pay its teachers well enough so they can live in the town.
Another resident is embarrassed that teachers are paid as low as they are, from a societal standpoint. And is Barrington going to approve 1 million dollars for potholes, but not for the children?
Resident speaks who says he supports teachers, but is concerned that the compensation structure for teachers is top-heavy.
Resident (and state employee) cannot support a budget increase, when so much of the budget goes to salaries and benefits.
Resident argues that the budget needs to be increased, because the Paiva-Weed cap means that future year increases will depend on the baseline that is established this year.
Resident raises concern about pension spiking.
Resident thanks school committee for doing a thankless job under tough conditions.
Resident asks if money from the state or the feds is somehow found, after the budget is approved, will the tax-rate go down? The answer from the finance director is basically no.
Last speaker has spoken. It’s time to vote; we’re going right to a stand-up vote, counting person-by-person…
Motion passes 569-323. We move now to an additional increase motion, to restore the adminstrator salary increases.
School committee recommends against. Motion fails by voice vote.